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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Forensic evidence trapped triple killer
Birmingham laboratory
The Birmingham laboratory analysed masses of evidence
Forensic science played a key role in catching triple murderer Philip Smith.

Experts from the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham analysed a massive amount of evidence and the results linked the 35-year-old Gloucestershire handyman to each victim.

The team was headed by Martin Whittaker, who worked closely with detectives from West Mercia Police and their counterparts at the neighbouring West Midlands force.

In 20 years of working with the FSS, I have never had to deal with so much evidence in relation to one suspect

Forensic scientist Martin Whittaker
He said: "A team of forensic scientists from different specialities worked really hard to gather everything they could.

"The team pulled together every strand of forensic evidence to create a kind of 'spider's web' and in the centre of it all ... was Philip Smith.

"In 20 years of working for the FSS, I have never had to deal with so much evidence in relation to one suspect. It was quite overwhelming."

"Throughout the investigation, the FSS and police worked very closely together and the result is a tribute to that partnership."

Bloodstained clothing

Experts had attended each of the scenes before the crimes were linked.

But after Smith's arrest, two FSS scientists visited his home in Braithwaite Road, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, while another examined his battered Volvo car.

The evidence recovered was crucial to the case.

At Smith's shabby terraced home, just blocks from where Jodie Hyde's body was found, they discovered a bath full of murky, brown water that contained apparently bloodstained clothing.

Laboratory analysis established links between the three cases.

This included blood, which matched each of the three victims, on Smith's belongings.

Smouldering body

Smith's unexplained killing spree was brief but brutal.

He had no previous convictions for violence, but in the space of four days last November, he murdered three women.

Patrolling police officers found the smouldering body of 21-year-old Jodie Hyde on 9 November.

Undated Police handout picture of murder victim Rosemary Corcoran, 25
Rosemary Corcoran: Killed in November 2000
Barely recognisable, the body had been hidden near a recreation ground off Golden Hillock Road in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham.

Days later, on 12 November, the landlord of the Robin Hood Pub at Rashwood, near Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, discovered the body of Rosemary Corcoran, 25, in a wooded lane near a nursing home.

On the same day, 20 miles away in Lea Bank, Birmingham, a dog walker found the battered body of mother-of-six Rosemary Jordan in parkland.

She had been viciously beaten and had to be identified through her dental records.

CCTV pictures

All three women frequented The Rainbow, a pub in the Digbeth area of Birmingham where Smith ran an unlicensed cab business.

Hours before Ms Corcoran's body was found, Smith was caught on CCTV struggling with her outside a club in Handsworth.

Several hours later, a pensioner said he saw a man fitting Smith's description, bloodstained and filling a petrol can in Bromsgrove, a neighbouring town to Droitwich.

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