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Vicky Calder - The first trial
The trial, which was to be a tangle of conflicting scientific evidence, began on 18 September 1995 in the Christchurch High Court.
Judith Ablett-Kerr QC represented Calder. Richard Raymond and Mark Zarifeh appeared for the Crown. There were 10 men and two women on the jury, ordinary citizens who would be expected to cope with a barrage of conflicting scientific argument, and, with some assistance from trial judge Justice Tipping’s summing up, would try to decide guilt or innocence.

The Crown contended Calder had the motive, opportunity, knowledge and intent to poison Lloyd including access to acrylamide from the medical school. Fictitious letters written by Calder were produced to establish that Calder had been angry and deceitful. Witnesses testified that she had been furious with Lloyd and that she was familiar with toxins such as acrylamide.

One witness said Calder had told her “no one will cross me” and that there “were things that could not be discovered” and had used a scientific name the witness could not recall. Another work colleague testified that Calder had told her she had a substance which, if smeared on door handles could be absorbed through the skin with fatal, untraceable results. A further witness recounted a conversation with Calder in the medical school cafeteria who said “any good biochemist knows four different ways of killing a person without leaving a trace”.

However, the major flaw in the prosecution’s case was that no one could place Calder with Lloyd on the day he became ill. Nor were they able to establish conclusively that Lloyd had been poisoned with acrylamide. Much of the scientific evidence dealt with new and novel approaches to analysis and this aspect was savaged by the Defence.

The cornerstone of the Crown’s scientific evidence was in finding a substance in Lloyd’s hair as well as in his blood known as carboxyethyl cysteine or CEC, a by-product of acrylamide. A scientist found samples of Lloyd’s hair taken three weeks after he fell ill, contained 100 times higher CEC than a control group, some of whom had worked with acrylamide.



Next related article: Forward to Vicky Calder - The DefenceVicky Calder - The Defence
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