The Linacre Appreciation Society

The Linacre Appreciation Society The name Dr. Adrian Linacre probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to you but his importance to modern society is not dampened by this.

If, like me, you happen to float in the circles of forensic science then the name will be a big one. If not then here is the quick run-down: after sixteen years in the field, Dr Linacre is considered to be one of UK’s foremost blood spatter analysts and is the leading world expert in wild life investigation. He has played a key role in many high profile criminal cases including the Lockerbie bombing, the Limb in the Lock case and the murder of a Thailand politician. His expertise has also been sought upon in cases of mass human identification including 9/11 and the Boxing Day tsunami.

The pivotal role he has played in a multitude of criminal investigations aside, what I find to be the most inspiring of his work is his efforts to inform the public into the reality of forensic science. To quote the man himself in an interview with BBC Scotland:

It can be like solving a jigsaw puzzle. People have this magical view of forensic science, but it is usually based on the fiction of shows like CSI rather than the reality. We don't solve crimes in an hour, unfortunately.

This is an important point that all involved in real life crime investigation are keen to stress but none have gotten that point across to the public perhaps more so than Adrian Linacre. Whether it is due to his level of expertise, the professionalism that always shines through or the integrity in which he conducts himself, when Dr Linacre speaks people take note. As a lecturer and teacher he continually reinforced this point and I hope that those of you reading this take that point away with you.

His humble career took off at the University of Surrey, where he received his PhD in molecular biology studying under none other than Dr Ed Southern (as in the Southern Blot). After working his way up the ranks and earning a reputation as a brilliant forensic scientist in the field he took up a teaching position in his hometown at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. His career did not slow down however, with case after case still coming his way, with police forces as far apart as in Thailand and L.A seeking his help. He also served as a great source of inspiration for budding forensic science students, myself included. His common sense, no-nonsense approach to the science and to the world made him a hit with many. His two hour lecture slot on a Monday afternoon was the highlight of my week and I would like to take the time now to personally thank the man for making me the scientist that I am today.

Currently, Dr, soon to be Professor, Linacre is on faculty at Flinders University, Adelaide where he continues to inspire students. He also continues to indulge in his passion of cricket.

Of course, we all want to know the gory details of his case work and just as I was advised by Dr Linacre, I am now advising the reading public that they are not for the sensitive or weak stomached. One of the most prominent cases he has worked on, and as what he described as a career highlight during a blood spatter analysis tutorial, is the aforementioned murder of a Thailand politician. This case tested Dr Linacre not just professionally but also personally with his life threatened during the investigation. To truly understand the man you must know that whenever recounting how there was a hit put out on him Linacre always has a smile on his face.

The facts of the case are as such: in Bangkok a well know political figure was found dead in his apartment by his brother, a gun-shot wound clearly visible to his head. The police responded to the emergency call in an astonishing, if not suspicious four minutes and untimely ruled the death as suicide. This conclusion was contradicted by the victim’s family, but more importantly by the forensic evidence and so entered Dr Linacre into the case. As a part-time consultant for a university in the country he was a familiar name to those in law enforcement and law breaking alike. His presence caused such a stir that his face made the front page of the national newspapers and he was required to give a press conference on each night of the investigation. Not to mention the hassle it caused the British Ambassador who had to deal with the fall-out over a British expert contradicting that of the Thai police.

From the blood spatter pattern and the relative position of the body and the gun used, along with evidence found by Dr Pornthip, Thailand’s leading Forensic Pathologist, Dr Linacre was able to declare homicide far more plausible than the official suicide ruling. Note that the man does not use absolutes; another of his teachings, forensics deals with probabilities not certainties.

You can imagine the chilling effect these findings had on the corrupt government and police force that many suspected to be the real culprits behind this murder. To save face internationally, manner of death was changed to homicide and subsequently the victim’s brother stood trail but was acquitted. The case is still pending. You can read more about it, and about the quirky Dr Pornthrip (Dr Death) here: Thailand’s Fearless Dr. Death.

To go through all the cases in which Dr Adrian Linacre has been instrumental would take a lifetime, and would not be complete with cases added each and every day. I think it is safe to assume that he is at the top of his career with no signs of slipping and that he will continue to inspire all those he comes into contact with for years to come. So once again, thank you Dr Linacre, my hero.

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