Q&A with Simon Morton
On the importance of forensic science:
“Science underpins the world that surrounds us and it tells so many stories about how we’re living our lives. And yet I hadn’t realised how significant science is in terms of having the power to actually build narrative and tell the truth in a forensic scene in order to reveal who did it. I used to think it was all about magnifying glass and detective work and that’s still a major factor but forensic science is really intrinsic to modern crime-solving.”
On scientists as the heroes of modern-day crime-fighting:
“I’m not sure that scientists get the profile they deserve because they tend to be people who are fairly humble and they’re doers rather than talkers. In this series you do start to understand the role that science has in civil society in terms of keeping criminals accountable.
People watching the series will have a new level of respect for people who work in the huge range of disciplines that comprise what we call forensic science. It spans everything from biology, entomology, chemistry, microbiology right through to tooling technology, manufacturing processes and more.”
On making new discoveries:
“Forensic science was pretty new to me – particularly in terms of some of the specific technologies like laser technology and how luminol is used in fluorescing blood and other body fluids.
I was obviously aware of DNA technology although I was amazed to find that here in New Zealand we developed STRMIX which was a way of taking multiple sources of DNA from multiple individuals and actually separating those out.
That’s now world-class technology that was developed here in New Zealand. It is sold internationally and is used by law enforcement agencies throughout the world today so that was a really cool discovery.”
On blood spatter:
“Blood spatter is fascinating. I never thought I’d be so interested in what happens to blood when it hits a surface but that can reveal so much about the method of the attack, the direction and the distance the individual was from the surface, from the ground.
There’s so much information available in terms of being able to triangulate and get all of that information together. So it becomes a sort of geometric puzzle. You can look at directions of blood as it hits a surface and angles and from that you can create quite a precise point of contact – of where, say, a knife entered a vein and blood was released.
When you put all that with a narrative or witness testimony it becomes very powerful data in the course of a criminal case.”