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Foreword to:

Recommendations for Change to Improve the Quality of Post-mortem Forensic Science Evidence Associated with Queensland Inquests and Trials.

A Submission
by Patrick J Collins and Desley K Collins 17.08.06.

Since making the above-named submission to Mr Halliday, we have been provided with additional information that is relevant to our Recommendation 1, p.1. This recommendation included:

1. Queensland Health Scientific Services (QHSS) should employ a highly qualified post-mortem forensic toxicologist … a post-mortem forensic toxicologist should have expertise in pharmacokinetics (i.e. the absorption, metabolism, distribution and excretion of drugs in both the antemortem and post-mortem periods).

In relation to the above, it has been brought to our attention that some forensic scientists currently employed at QHSS (Queensland Health Scientific Services) do have tertiary qualifications in pharmacokinetics. However, we have never suggested that all QHSS scientists are lacking in this regard in relation to antemortem pharmacokinetics. Our concerns are two-fold: (i) Some QHSS forensic scientists who lack pharmacokinetic competence have given erroneous pharmacokinetic evidence in the Court and in Coronial correspondence; and (ii) Our attempts (via an appropriate channel) to identify one or more QHSS forensic toxicologists with competence in post-mortem pharmacokinetics (especially post-mortem changes to drug concentrations) have been unsuccessful. Accordingly, we stand by our Recommendation 1, above. However, if such a person(s) is currently employed at QHSS, we apologise for making this recommendation. On the other hand, if such a person is so employed, we recommend that this person’s identity be made known to coroners, prosecutors and others with a legitimate interest.

Patrick J Collins and Desley K Collins, parents of the late Mitchell Craig Collins.
30.08.2006.

Footnote re Ms Robyn Kelly, Manager Forensic Sciences QHSS.

This footnote was added to the above “Foreword” on 5.09.06: i.e. it was not part of our following submission, which Magistrate Halliday tabled when he closed Mitch’s Inquest on 1.09.06. However, it summarises part of a letter, dated 30.09.06, from us to Mr Halliday, which we believe he also tabled on 1.09.06.

Note: Please read the following in conjunction with Recommendation 1 of our Submission to Magistrate Halliday of 17.08.06. We have added it to clarify that Ms Kelly has apparently been continuously employed as Manager of Forensic Sciences, QHSS, throughout the relevant period we discussed in our submission. There was, however, a legitimate basis (below) for our reference to Ms Kelly in the above recommendation.

In a response dated 28.08.06, to queries from Magistrate Halliday on 18.08.06, Mr Shaw, Acting Director of QHSS, referred to Ms Robyn Kelly as Manager of Forensic Sciences, QHSS. Mr Shaw also stated that Mr Forster’s recommendations to the Minister for Health, dated 7.10.05, had “been implemented”. Presumably this included his recommendation (p.3) that the position of “Manager, Forensic Sciences” … “be advertised and recruited in an open and competitive manner …”. There is, however, some ambiguity about this:

(a)    Prior to Mr Forster’s letter, there were two relevant positions at QHSS. The 2005 Task Force Report tabulated these as “General Manager QHSS” and “Manager Forensic Sciences” [see 2005 staff flowchart].

(b)   The April 2006 “Six-monthly Report on Reforms” at QHSS stated (p.3) that, “The former position of General Manager, QHSS has been abolished.” We do not know the name of the former “General Manager” but Ms Kelly, in early 2005, signed correspondence as “Manager Forensic Sciences QHSS.

(c)    Perhaps Mr Forster simply stated “Manager” instead of “General Manager”. If not, Mr Shaw’s letter lacks some detail in relation to Mr Forster’s recommendation.

(d)   Finally, as the position of General Manager was abolished in late 2005 or early in 2006, the person who had filled that position is presumably no longer employed at QHSS [2006 staff flowchart].

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Please select to continue:

Our Submission (13 pages including references).
QHFSS Response

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