Bernard Maigrot had requested the expertise of two scientists to examine the reports of Professor Christian Doutremepuich from the Bordeaux forensic hematology laboratory, commissioned by the Mauritian police. This took place in the context of the trial brought against the businessman for the murder of Vanessa Lagesse in March 2001, before the Assize Court.

Defense experts Dr Susan Pope and Professor Christophe Champod analyzed the reports of Professor Christian Doutremepuich in the trial of Bernard Maigrot. If Dr Pope gave his opinion on DNA analysis methods, Professor Champod highlighted the limitations of such evidence in the case.

Dr Susan Pope, with a PhD in biochemistry, is now a consultant and director of Principal Forensic Services Ltd. She emphasized that DNA has become crucial in criminal cases, explaining that she brings her expertise to analyze the reports for both the prosecution and the defense.

Responding to questions from Me Gavin Glover, Senior Counsel, Dr Pope indicated that Christophe Champod had requested his expertise in July 2014 for this case. She had examined in detail three reports from Professor Doutremepuich. According to her, DNA analyzes should answer two questions: who owns the DNA in question, and when and how this DNA ended up there. She noted that Professor Doutremepuich's analysis focused only on the first question, the identity of the DNA.

The witness will also point out that she was unable to obtain more information despite several requests to Professor Doutremepuich. However, it recognizes that the analyzes of the latter were carried out according to accredited standards. “I agree with all the findings of Professor Christian Doutremepuich,” said Dr. Pope, particularly regarding the presence of the DNA of Vanessa Lagesse and Bernard Maigrot, as well as the unknown DNA profiles found on the evidence.

However, she questions the method used by Professor Doutremepuich regarding one of the pieces of evidence, a “large square cloth”. On a part taken stained with blood, the professor concluded that there was DNA from Bernard Maigrot. Sometimes, she explained, blood can be present without DNA. As a result, she stressed that the extraction should have been carried out over a wider area.

Dr. Pope concluded that due to the small amount of DNA collected and the limited evidence obtained, the findings cannot establish the time and activities that took place at the crime scene. Likewise, she stressed that these results cannot determine how the DNA was transferred before or at the time of the crime.

Responding to questions from Darshana Gayan, Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Dr Susan Pope explained that she had no personal knowledge of the case, but that defense lawyers had put her somewhat in the loop. context so that she can revise Professor Doutremepuich's reports. She argued that there was no need to make a request to re-analyze the exhibits because the portions used “were already consumed.”

“DNA evidence is neutral”

For his part, Professor Christophe Champod, an expert in 'Forensic Science' teaching at the University of Lausanne, was mandated by Bernard Maigrot's defense to secondly examine the DNA evidence in the case. He stated from the outset that DNA evidence is neutral and cannot provide information on the mode of its transfer.

For Professor Champod, DNA cannot indicate the time of Bernard Maigrot's presence on the scene, nor his activities at the time of the murder, nor whether he was deposited earlier or at the time of the crime. Due to the very low quality of Bernard Maigrot's DNA, he believes that it is impossible to determine the latter's actions. He further indicated that it is “very difficult” to eradicate DNA through normal washing, while adding that DNA adheres to places such as cracks. Cleaning, he asserts, “is not enough to eradicate DNA.”

Concerning the experiment carried out in Mauritius in 2011, in particular the examination of the washing of a sheet, Professor Champod declared that he was not aware of the objective of this exercise nor of the existence of a protocol when he wrote his second-expertise report.

The case was adjourned until this Friday, June 21, 2024. The hearing will resume with the cross-examination of Professor Champod by the prosecution.

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