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