Specialist team in bodies hunt at ex-children's home

25 February 2008
Press Association National Newswire
Katie Hodge

The investigation at a former children's home in Jersey has pulled together an extensive team of specialist officers and forensic experts to hunt for more remains.

Teams at Haut de la Garenne in St Martin, on the east coast of the island, are working with sniffer dogs and specialist equipment - including ground penetrating radar - to fully excavate parts of the Jersey youth hostel.

The specialists, who range from archaeologists to scientists and pathologists, play a crucial role in discovering, preserving and identifying any remains found during a forensic examination.

But the work is being led by two sniffer dogs - one which specialises in detecting human remains and another which specialises in detecting blood.

Springer spaniel Eddie was involved in the hunt for Madeleine McCann in Portugal and was responsible for finding the remains at Haut de la Garenne through several inches of concrete on Saturday.

The seven-year-old "enhanced victim recovery dog" is said to have picked up traces of missing Madeleine in the back of Kate and Gerry McCann's car which they hired five weeks after she disappeared.

Eddie also located the body of pensioner Attracta Harron in a shallow grave in Co Tyrone in April 2003 after the 65-year-old was murdered on her way home from Mass.

Her killer, Trevor Hamilton, 23, was put behind bars for the murder - which was committed less than four months after he completed a sentence for rape.

The dog trained in detecting blood traces, three-year-old Keela, another springer spaniel, is handled by Martin Grime and works with the South Yorkshire police force.

The canine pair have already travelled around Britain and to Ireland and the US to help police investigating murder and missing person cases.

They are assisting a search team comprising police and experts from England and Scotland.

Among the group are an archaeologist and a forensic anthropologist who concluded, last week, that the remains found were not that of an adult or infant.

In terms of equipment, the team are using ground penetrating radar to explore seven areas on the property and identify any disturbances in the soil.

After a potential hidden grave or "hot spot" has been identified, forensic teams will begin carefully "clearing back" the top layer of soil.

Experts working on the investigation have dug trenches in the ground floor of the children's home and are now conducting a detailed search of the area on their knees.

This painstaking fingertip work is expected to last several weeks.

Around 17 Jersey police officers are currently working on the historical abuse inquiry.

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