YAT’s Dickson Lab aids prosecutors in high profile cases.

YAT’s Dickson Lab aids prosecutors in high profile cases.

Police Scotland

2013 - 2014

Forensics and Science

York Archaeological Trust’s Dickson Lab for Bio-Archaeology, based in Glasgow, provide assistance to around 25 forensic cases UK-wide annually, helping to achieve murder convictions.

Phyllis DunleavyRecent successes include the conviction of James Dunleavy for the murder, dismemberment and concealment of his mother, Phyllis, who was missing for several weeks.  The digital record of her body parts recovery taken by the Lab, was shown in court and received commendation from Justice Lord Jones and world-wide media attention.  To narrow the window of death staff at the Dickson Lab also determined deposition time botanically and analysed her stomach contents to link Mrs Dunleavy to time spent with her son.  James Dunleavy is now incarcerated for life.

For more information on this case click here (link takes you to an external website which we have no control over the content)

Hazel NorthLab assistance with the investigation of brutally murdered teenager Hazel North was also crucial to the prosecution of that case.  Hazel was missing for several weeks before found.  Staff from the Dickson Lab excavated and recorded digitally the body recovery, advising on duration.  In the lab, stomach contents were examined to determine events and timings of death.  Sieving the grave soil also found carpet fibres from the house where she died and paint from the spade used to dig the grave.  Crucially, staff linked the suspect definitively to the case.  Joseph Davies admitted his guilt in the protracted torture and murder of Hazel and is now serving 20 years in prison.

For more information on this case click here (link takes you to an external website which we have no control over the content)

Image gallery from a past forensic case

  • Pre-analysed stomach contents of a dead person missing for 13 days.
  • The stomach contents proved his last meal was eaten two hours before he went missing.
  • The feather and starch are from sweet and sour chicken, magnified x100, stained with iodine.
  • Peppers and seeds taken from contents
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