Key trial evidence missing

Police admit to losing bulletA VITAL piece of evidence, in the form of a bullet, has been lost during police investigations into the alleged shooting of Yamba truck driver Jonathon Koen, Grafton District Court heard yesterday.

Coffs Clarence Command Target Action Group Detective Sergeant Craig Semple, yesterday told the court a .32 calibre projectile that allegedly had been fired and was discovered on the driver's seat of Mr Koen's Ford Prime Mover had gone missing.

On May 26, 2004, Mr Koen, 46, allegedly was shot in the right side of the chest while he sat in his truck which had been parked about 11kms from the Wooli Road and Pacific Highway intersection.

The court has heard that during police examination of the crime scene and Mr Koen's truck in the ensuing days, officers located ballistic evidence from inside the prime mover as well as one magazine containing seven live 0.45 cartridges and one live 0.32 calibre cartridge in a grassed area near the truck. A leather pancake pistol holder also was located at the scene.

Yesterday the court heard police were unable to locate the projectile which had been personally delivered by a Grafton police senior constable to the Division of Analytical Laboratories (DAL) at Lidcombe for DNA testing.

Det Sgt Semple said he first discovered the bullet was missing after following up ballistic examinations.

In a cross examination by the accused David Charles Brown's barrister Peter Williams, Det Sgt Semple admitted the item was vital evidence in the case.

Mr Williams: "It was an important exhibit, was it not?"

Det Sgt Semple: "Yes."

Det Sgt Semple went on to say that it 'was a very important exhibit'.

Det Sgt Semple told the court he had investigated the matter as thoroughly as he could, saying: "I followed through with trying to locate the bullet as far as I possibly could."

The court also heard in a statement from DAL, that Grafton police had sent one leather pancake pistol holster, a magazine and ammunition, one round of 0.32 calibre ammunition, a cigarette butt (found on the floor of the truck), swabs taken from the truck and mouth swabs from both the accused Brown and Spyro Sophiadakis, to the laboratory for DNA testing.

DAL stated that: "DNA from an unknown male (individual one) was recovered from the magazine."

"This DNA could not have originated from Sophiadakis or Brown."

"The DNA recovered from the pistol holder is consistent with originating from the unknown individual (individual one) recovered from the magazine."

"Traces of DNA from a second individual, too weak to interpret, were also recovered from the pistol holder."

Further, DAL specialists said DNA collected from the cigarette butt came from a second unknown male and could not have originated from Sophiadakis or Brown.

In addition, Det Sgt Semple told Mr Williams that 'from what he could see there were no bullet holes' found in the seat covers of Mr Koen's truck.

"There were holes in the seat covers, but no bullet holes," Det Sgt Semple said.

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