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Expert refutes soil claims in Vicky case

PUBLISHED: 15:55 13 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:50 03 March 2010

SOIL found in the footwell of Adrian Bradshaw's Porsche was "quite unlikely" to have come from the Suffolk ditch where the body of Vicky Hall was found, a murder trial heard today.

SOIL found in the footwell of Adrian Bradshaw's Porsche was "quite unlikely" to have come from the Suffolk ditch where the body of Vicky Hall was found, a murder trial heard today.

Geology expert Doctor Andrew Moncrieff said according to four grasps comparing soil found at both sites, grains found in the 27-year-old businessman's car did not come from the Creeting St Peter site where the teenager's body was found on September 24, 1999.

"On four of those plots it didn't come from there," he said.

Bradshaw, owner of free newspaper the Felixstowe Flyer, is accused of murdering 17-year-old Vicky who disappeared on her way home from Felixstowe's Bandbox nightclub on September 19, 1999, after parting from her best friend Gemma Algar at a junction in Trimley St Mary.

Bradshaw has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

David Cocks, QC, defending, asked Dr Moncrieff what he could say about the origin of the soil particles found in Bradshaw's car.

"I don't think we know where it's from," Dr Moncrieff told the jury of five women and seven men at Norwich Crown Court.

Earlier in the trial, another soil expert, Professor Kenneth Pye, told the jury that soil in Bradshaw's car was "remarkably similar" to soil from the Creeting ditch where Vicky's naked and semi-submerged body was found five days after she vanished.

Michael Lawson, QC, prosecuting asked Dr Moncrieff if he agreed that the methodology Professor Pye had used in his soil analysis was valid.

Dr Moncrieff said he did but did not "accept that it's been done with significant accuracy or precision".

Dr Moncrieff told the jury he did not agree that the footwell samples of soil had a "high similarity" with soil taken from close to where the teenager's body was discovered by dog walker James Armour.

"They're similar but not identical," Dr Moncrieff said.

"I think it is quite unlikely that it came from there."

A Level student Vicky's parents Graham and Lorinda Hall, and her brother Steven, were in court to hear the evidence as were Bradshaw's family who sat on the other side of the public gallery.

Yesterday, the court heard from Dr Moncrieff that he examined soil from 15 different locations in East Anglia and that the sample in Bradshaw's Porsche could have come from five of these places, including sites in Haverhill, Combs Ford and Stowmarket.

He said: "It's an unremarkable piece of East Anglian soil. It's indistinguishable from many other areas around the place."

He also said that the site where Vicky was found was not geo-chemically distinct.

Mr Cocks told the court that the soil from Bradshaw's car had been destroyed in the testing process and that Prof Pye told Dr Moncrieff there was "insufficient unprocessed sample for complete chemical re-analysis."

"I would like to have had more of the sample," said Dr Moncrieff.

"It would have been good to run more analysis on what is, after all, the crucial sample."

He added that four out of 15 comparison tests showed differences between the footwell sample and the body site. Two of these tests featured the element uranium, which Dr Moncrieff discovered there to be a difference of more than the accepted variance of 22 per cent.

The average level of uranium in the footwell sample was 3.5 parts per million while at soil in Creeting St Peter it was 2.64. "It is quite a big difference of about a third," he said.

Mr Cocks asked Dr Moncrieff what impact it would have on the prosecution's findings if the uranium levels showed a difference of more than 22pc. He replied that the work done would be "virtually useless".

The defence's soil expert said: "Given the distinctive difference, it tells us that the footwell sample did not come from that field in Creeting St Peter."

Proceedings failed to resume after lunch yesterday when the defence team experienced problems photocopying specific documents.

The judge in the case, the Honourable Mr Justice Moses, said he was "flabbergasted" by the situation.

The jury was sent home early and the case was set to resume today with more questions from Dr Moncrieff before his cross-examination.

Previously in the trial the jury has heard that Bradshaw was in the same area at the same time as Victoria when she disappeared at the junction of High Road and Faulkeners Way.

They also heard that he had been in the Bandbox nightclub on same evening and shared a taxi ride with a friend and two girls.

Bradshaw, who lived at The Wheelwrights in Trimley at the time of Vicky's disappearance, but who has since moved to Felnor Walk, in Felixstowe, said he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" and insisted Vicky's murder had nothing to do with him.

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