Hard to be sure if sari washed

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 13/11/2012
Shanal Sajesh Kumar
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ
NOT GUILTY PLEA: Fijian-Indian Shanal Sajesh Kumar, 29, denies he murdered his lover, Indian-born Dipti Patel, 42, in the garage of her New Plymouth home three years ago.

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A forensic scientist said it was not possible to be certain when blood found on a dead woman's sari was deposited.

Susan Vintiner was giving evidence in the murder trial of Shanal Sajesh Kumar, 29, in the High Court at new Plymouth yesterday.

The Crown says Kumar strangled his former lover Dipti Patel, 42, in her garage on April 7, 2009 with a skipping rope and then made it appear she hung herself.

Kumar has denied the murder, saying he had not seen Mrs Patel for two weeks before she died.

Evidence has been given that a bloodstain found on Mrs Patel's sari contained DNA likely to have come from the accused.

To cross-examination from defence counsel Peter Winter, Ms Vintiner agreed she could not be certain whether the bloodstain had been washed with detergent or washing powder.

Mr Winter asked if she accepted it was likely a sari could be handwashed and blood could still be located on the fabric.

Ms Vintiner said if detergent had not been used, it was very likely the bloodstain would have persisted through laundering.

The Auckland-based scientist agreed with Mr Winter the blood could have transferred to the sari in several ways, such as Mrs Patel touching a cut on his face and then touching herself or scratching him at another time and the blood coming in contact with the sari.

There was no DNA found on Mrs Patel's fingernails, which could have resulted from defensive injuries such as scratching someone.

Also no DNA was found in Mrs Patel's hair, in the knot around her neck or in blood on the garage floor located through luminol testing.

To Crown solicitor Cherie Clarke Ms Vintiner said it was her belief that it was unlikely the blood stain was washed.

This was because of a combination of factors. The blood stain was visible, "and importantly the presumptive test still worked; and that there was sufficient DNA present to use a standard DNA method".

ESR scientist Angus Newton, a specialist in examination and analysis of manufactured items, said the two pieces of skipping rope from the garage were polyvinylchloride (PVC).

He believed some sort of "tool or object" made a gouge along the rope close to the knot cut from Mrs Patel's neck.

Very small lags or surface defects pointed to the gouge going in the direction of the knot.

To Mr Winter, Mr Newton said he understood PVC put under load would stretch. But because the gouge was along the length of the rope it was unlikely that the rope was gouged during use as a skipping rope.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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