Be careful what you wish for

Remember our “Amazing Stories” competition? Here’s the first of the winning stories: Last year, Lillian Gibson was looking for summer work experience. But things did not quite work out – or did they?

man in handcuffs

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by Lillian Gibson

Last April, I was driving home from university, looking forward to the summer break and thinking about looking for work experience. I had two plans: plan A and plan B.

plan A and plan B

So, for a while, I checked Go Wales on my computer every day. After several checks and looking at other sources for work experience, I found that there wasn’t anything suitable for my Forensic Biology course. I decided to go along with plan B, which was to have my garden landscaped.

I had several flyers regarding landscape gardening. I sifted through them and decided on one company. I got a quote for the work to be carried out. The work commenced two weeks after breaking up from uni.

The gardeners arrived (four in all) and started the work. The manager asked if he could have some money in advance: the clutch had gone in their lorry and they would have to hire another to get the gravel to my house. I felt comfortable with that as we had both signed a contract.

refuse left by fence They also removed refuse from the side of the house and left it by the gate. They promised that they would take it with them when they left. The day went on and they had gravelled about one third of the rear garden. They asked if they could leave their lorry and their equipment until the next day when they would be back to continue with the work. I agreed and went indoors to start tea as my daughter was due home from work.

I had been in the house for about fifteen minutes when my daughter arrived home. When she came in, I asked her if she had seen the men outside. She said “No.”

I went outside. The men had left with their lorry and equipment. They had left the household refuse behind. I phoned them. The person I spoke to said that they had managed to get the clutch to work and would be back the next morning at nine thirty. The gravel would arrive at eight in the morning.

The gravel and the men did not appear the next day. I phoned the police, who said it was nothing to do with them, as it was a civil matter. Being a tenacious person, I telephoned them again and this time, I spoke to a more sympathetic and helpful police officer who gave me the telephone number of the Trading Standards in Cardiff. I telephoned them and made an appointment for someone to call to my home the next day.

After speaking with the Trading Standards, I realised that these men were rogue traders who were using a scam to extract money from unsuspecting people.

My garden and my home had now become a crime scene! The only thing for me to do was to treat it as such. I started collecting evidence that would put these rogue traders at the scene of the crime. I collected cigarette butts, fish and chip papers, coke cans, footwear prints and tyre prints of the wheelbarrow they had used: I put into practice all that I had been taught at uni.

Lillian, collecting evidence I got my camera and photographed the scene of crime. I logged the photographs on a Scene of Crime log sheet. I logged the evidence. I then packaged it and labelled it as I had been taught. Eventually, the Criminal Investigation Department became involved and treated it as a serious crime.

The police set up Intelligence and a Task Force in order to apprehend the criminals. Forensics and the police were pleased with what I had done and commented on the ‘continuity’ of my investigation. Forensics examined and analysed the evidence I had collected and found DNA on one of the coke cans. They checked it on the data base and they found a match! The suspect has since been arrested and I have identified him.

During my summer break I had the best work experience I could have had. It calls to mind what I wrote on my application to Glamorgan University, the reasons why I chose forensic science: “If I can assist in upholding the law and contribute to bringing a criminal to justice, then that will be a job well done.”

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