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Phone-hacking trial: One bag, two bags, three bags full

The trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, the prime minister's former director of communications Andy Coulson and six others began at the Old Bailey on 28 October. The Drum will be in court for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last at least four months, and will provide comprehensive updates on this blog.

The trial is scheduled to examine seven counts that include conspiracy to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Coverage will be provided by James Doleman, who was acclaimed for his exhaustive and responsible reporting of the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial.

Evidence: The bin area at Chelsea Harbour
  • Charlie Brooks items recovered included "Instant Lesbian" DVD
  • One bag from World Economic Forum in Davos
  • Mark Hanna's fingerprints found on outer bin bag, prosecution claims

When the case resumed after lunch, Mark Bryant-Heron, the prosecution QC, called his next witness on count seven of the indictment, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, PC Ian King. After being sworn in, the police officer told the court that on 18 July 2007, the day after Rebekah Brooks was first arrested, he was called to attend at the complex containing her London flat at Chelsea Harbour. He arrived at around 2.10pm and met the facilities manager Alan Ramsay. Ramsay told the officer that two bags had been found in an underground car park and the officer identified a picture of the bags shown on the court screens. One of the bags was from the World Economic Forum held every year in Davos, Switzerland.

The officer referred to a note he made at the time and told the court that the brown bag contained a Sony computer, documents belonging to Charlie Brooks, a dictaphone, a phone and a chequebook. PC King sealed the bag as an exhibit and handed it over to the officers from Operation Weeting, the metropolitan police inquiry into phone-hacking, who had searched the Brooks' flat the previous day. The black bag in question was then shown to the jury.

Neil Saunders, counsel for defendant Mark Hanna, then cross-examined the witness. The police officer confirmed that he was told Charlie Brooks had inquired about the bags earlier in the day and had told staff there had been a "mix up" leading to the bags being put behind the bins. The officer confirmed he had examined the DVD's contained in the bag but did not make a record of their titles or an inventory of the bag's contents. The witness the stepped down.

The next witness called was police sergeant Robert McDonald. This witness told the court that he also attended the facilities office at Chelsea court on 18 July 2011 and also identified the bags found there. While his colleague, officer King, looked inside the brown bag, Seargent McDonald opened the black bag and inside found an iPad, laptop, power cables and a quantity of correspondence addressed to Charlie and Rebekah Brooks. This bag was then shown to the jury. "Very much like the one in the picture," Justice Saunders remarked.

Neil Saunders QC then cross examined the witness and asked if he had removed anything from the black bag, to which McDonald replied he did not recall doing so. The witness confirmed that the bags had stayed in his possession until they were sealed in an evidence bag. The witness then stepped down from the stand.

The final witness to be called for this stage of the evidence was DC Karyn Millar. This witness told the court she had carried out a full inventory of the contents of the two bags. Copies of this were displayed on the court screens listing items found.

These included an official programme for the Royal box at Wimbledon, a Kunekune pig society newsletter, a Jiffy bag containing a magazine called "Lesbian Lovers" and DVD's with the titles "Instant Lesbian, Lesbian Psychodrama", "Brides of Sin" "10 Petites Salopes" and "Where the Boys Aren't". There was also an HTC smartphone, items of unopened correspondence, invoices and a postcard from France. The second bag contained an Apple laptop, tagged as property of News International, and an Apple iPad, toothpaste and toothbrushes and, a "conker."

Neil Saunders QC then cross examined the police officer in detail about the bag's contents, concentrating on the dates of the correspondence found. He asked the officer if this represented a "couple of weeks worth of mail", to which the witness agreed. The witness then left the stand and the court moved on to a new subject: forensic analysis of the bin liners that the prosecution say the two recovered bags were originally stored in. The prosecution called detective constable Pritchard to the stand. The police officer told the court that the day after the bags were recovered the rubbish compactor on site was searched. "It wasn't particularly pleasant," the officer confirmed. The cleaner who originally found the bags, Mr Nashimento, confirmed they were the correct items, identifying them by the clear tape on the top.

Junior counsel for Mark Hanna, Duncan Penny, then rose to cross examine the witness. He questioned the officer on the process followed by the police in this search and the documentation produced. Penny questioned the police officer on his communication with Mr Nashimento, who speaks mainly Portuguese. Pritchard told the court that they managed to understand each other and he was happy that they understood each other. Asked if he was involved in sending the recovered bags for forensic analysis, Pritchard said no, but he did attend a meeting in 2012 which discussed the discovery of fingerprints on the bags.

The officer was then shown a defence exhibit showing the results of the fingerprint examination of the bags, which showed the prints of a Daryl Jorsling were recovered on one bag. Counsel put it to the officer that there was "some confusion" over the results found in the bag and asked what the subject of the 2012 meeting mentioned above was. Penny asked if the subject of the meeting was why three bin liners were produced when he only declared two at the time of the search. The officer said he assumed the bags were all tied up together, leading to the confusion about the number found.

The next witness was Emma Theresa Wight, who told the court that she worked for the Metropolitan police as a forensic scientist specialising in DNA analysis. The witness confirmed to the court that there was no positive result for any of the defendants found by the external provider who carried out the initial DNA test so the witness ran another swab, this time on the tape holding the bags together. Wight then left the stand to be replaced by Kevin Young, a senior forensic practitioner specialising in fingerprint analysis.

The witness was shown a photograph of the three bin liners given to him for analysis. He had carried out "sequential chemical treatments" on them and then treated them with a laser to see if there were any "latent" fingerprints. If this finds nothing the bags are treated with "superglue" which sticks to any sweat marks on the bag exposing any prints. In this case, the witness said he found the prints of Daryl Jorsling on the outside surface of the single bag. Another bag, the witness said, had the fingerprint of defendant Mark Hanna.

Hanna's junior counsel, Duncan Penny, rose to cross examine Young. He took the witness through the notes he had made at the time of his examination of the evidence and asked him to confirm that the original exhibit officer had listed the number of bags as two while he stated there were three bags. Young confirmed that this was correct and explained that the bags were scrunched up inside each other and the officer may not have wanted to examine them too closely as this might contaminate the evidence. With that, Young stepped down from the witness stand.

A statement from an Andrew Horton, a postman based in Chipping Norton, was then read to the court. He described himself as a "floating postman" who did not have a regular route. The postman said he often left mail for the Brookses at an "open doorway" when requested by the owners as Jubilee Gardens does not have a letter box.

Court then rose until 9.30am tomorrow. All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.

Click here to view more posts from The Drum's daily phone-hacking trial coverage

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