A Rapid and Efficient Method for Evaluation of Suspect Testimony: Palynological Scanning

Patricia E. J. Wiltshire*, David L. Hawksworth, Kevin J. Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


A rapid method for evaluating suspect testimony is valuable at any stage in an inquiry and can result in a change of direction in an investigation. Rape cases, in particular, can present problems where a defendant renders DNA analysis redundant by claiming that the claimant consented to have sexual relations. Forensic palynology is valuable in confirming or eliminating locations as being crime scenes, thus checking the testimony of both parties. In contrast to some forensic disciplines, forensic palynology can provide critical information without time-consuming full analysis. Two cases are described where the palynological assemblages from comparator samples of pertinent places were compared with those obtained from clothing of claimants and defendants. The results of rapid microscopical scanning of relevant preparations led to early confessions, thus obviating the need for costly analyses and protracted court proceedings. A third case demonstrates the unbiased nature of this technique where a man, although innocent of any offense, lied about having visited the crime scene for fear of prosecution. This highlights the need for sensitive policing in claims of rape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1441-1450
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of forensic sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • false testimony
  • forensic science
  • intelligence
  • palynology
  • pollen
  • rape
  • spores
  • trace evidence


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