Environmental conditions at the Forensic Sciences Centre (FSC) have led to a backlog of cases, the laboratory’s director, Cheryl Corbin, has said.
The problems have affected a coroner’s inquest, which is trying to determine how Corey Best, 33, died nearly two years ago.
Addressing the Coroner’s Court presided by Coroner Manila Renee as Best’s inquest continued today, Corbin explained why experts had not analyzed the deceased’s fingernail clippings almost two years after his death.
In the presence on Best’s family including his mother, Corbin told the Cane Garden, St Thomas court: “That test was not conducted because we were unable to do so. The difficulty is that over the past few years we have had challenges with the environmental conditions on the scientific floor, which have prevented personnel from even going on the scientific floor because they will be risking their health.”
Best formerly of Hopefield, Charnocks, Christ Church was found hanging about 3 a.m. on April 13, 2017 while in police custody.
FSC experts were able to conduct some tests on the jeans that was reportedly found around the deceased man’s neck but tests on what was underneath his fingernails have yet to be done.
The FSC director explained: “It has hindered a lot of our work with the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) and as director I will like to formally apologize because there is nothing that we could have done about it at the time and I am really sorry that it is causing much stress for the families because they can not get the results that they want.”
But she was of the view that the centre could be up and running by year-end or early next year given a recent undertaking by the new Mottley administration.
Corbin told the Coroner: “With the turn of this administration, the Prime Minister has issued instruction which she did publicly that we are to get the lab up and running in the next eight to ten months and we have started that process and we are tying to get everything [going].
“When we do get up and running, unfortunately, cases will have to be done in priority because there are a lot of cases that are backlogged.”
In a recent speech on crime, Prime Minister Mottley addressed the state of affairs at the crime lab.
Mottley said: “The last Government presided over a situation with the Forensic Sciences Centre – it has been effectively shut down for six-seven-eight years – it can’t work and what we discovered is that the capacity to send stuff overseas was putting a significant drain on the police and the coffers and we have agreed that it has to be repaired within the next few months.
“The difficulty is it takes about four or five months to do and even when we finish it we may not have all of the equipment that has not been working for six-seven-eight years. It all has to be tested, we can’t send in anybody to test it until we solve the environmental problems.”