The fascinating world of ballistics came to life at a talk by one of Australia’s foremost forensic firearms experts at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum on Tuesday night, December 4.
Sergeant Gerard Dutton presented a wide-ranging talk on some of his investigations as Tasmanian Police’s head of ballistics (forensic services) as well as his work as a consultant in cases overseas.
Sergeant Dutton’s presentation, which was a treat for the crowd of interested Lithgow locals, came about by chance.
Museum custodian Donna White said she was contacted by Sergeant Dutton, who was planning to visit the museum as part of an Australian training tour for visiting members of the Palestinian Civil Police. Sergeant Dutton has been involved in the training of the officers as part of a United Nations program.
“We got talking about things and it emerged I was talking to one of Australia’s most respected ballistics experts. The rest is history,” she said.
Sergeant Dutton’s talk included details of a very intricate ballistics investigation he undertook to tie a bullet to a rifle as part of a murder case, which occurred in New Zealand in 2007.
After 31 years in the police force, Sergeant Dutton spoke passionately about his belief in the science of forensics in the justice system and the importance of exploring every aspect of the case.
“As a forensic scientist, you have to explore every time, so when you come across it the next time you will know what it is, what it means,” he said.
“That’s how you build your experience, by taking on the challenging jobs.”
The presentation ended with a discussion on some of the most ingenious booby traps he has ever seen, including a motion-detector driven shotgun and a concealed weapon set off by a rock suspended from a tree.
“I’m still learning. I go to work enthused and interested. I’m lucky to work in a profession that is so stimulating. It’s a wonderful career to be in,” Sergeant Dutton said. The crowd had the opportunity to pick Sergeant Dutton’s brain and considerable experience in a Q&A session following the presentation.
The event marked a first for the Small Arms Factory Museum, which aims to hold more of this kind of event in the future.