In Christopher’s bathroom police found a washing basket containing a syringe filled with a mixture of crushed paracetamol and water and some other items including an empty 24 pack of Panadol (a brand name for paracetamol) tablets. The Prosecution claimed that Jeff planted these items in Christopher’s bathroom to suggest that Christopher was intending to commit suicide and either took care not to deposit any prints or wiped his fingerprints off.
No fingerprints were found anywhere downstairs.
Police forensic examiners found no fingerprints on the wash basket or the items in it. After testing the items, the police fingerprint expert recorded “Nil identifiable ridge pattern” (MFI8 trial 2 2008).
The police searched for fingerprints on several items in the other rooms on the lower level where Christopher’s body was found including snooker balls, the bench area sink, a beer bottle, a blue nylon bag, Christopher’s fencing swords and medals, a grey bag and some glass sliding doors. No fingerprints or ridge details were discovered on any item tested.
The failure of the tests to find fingerprints on any of the household items tested suggests either the testing was not conducted properly or any prints were eliminated as a result of the water and steam from the fire-fighting effort.
Additionally, according to the prosecution’s expert at trial, freshly washed hands do not leave fingerprints. If the Panadol suicide kit was prepared by Christopher in his bathroom, where it was later found, it is entirely possible that he left no prints because he had washed immediately prior to mixing the paste.
Christopher had not been acting normally in the days and weeks before his death and this became more pronounced after the break-up of his first serious relationship only weeks earlier.
Sadly, overdose of paracetamol (Panadol) has been one of the most common methods of attempted suicide both in Australia and internationally. It appears that this is due to its availability and the misconception that taking an overdose of this drug will cause unconsciousness and death will be painless and peaceful.
In fact, a paracetamol overdose does not result in a loss of consciousness and instead a fatal dose results in a painful, irreversible destruction of the liver, which causes death after several days.
If you are thinking about suicide, please contact one of these groups:
• Paracetamol (Panadol) overdose is one of the most common methods of attempted suicide.
• The absence of fingerprints on the Panadol packet and other equipment does not provide any assistance in the determination of Jeff’s guilt or innocence.