POLICE had an unusual ally in their investigation to find the Brockley killer of a woman found dumped in a suitcase- flies. Now they are hoping for more insect insights.
Blowflies are increasingly being used by police to provide vital clues in murder investigations.
In fact it was these creepy-crawlies which were essential in solving the murder of Leah Questin whose body was found inside a suitcase in a dried-up Kent pond.
The Met police is now working with King's and the Natural History Museum to examine the importance of these techniques - known as forensic entomology - to make more breakthroughs.
Blowflies - more commonly known as bluebottles or greenbottles - are generally the first insects to arrive at a dead body.
By ageing them and their larvae, police scientists have the potential to determine the time of someone's death.
In the case of 37-year-old Miss Questin, they helped show when her body had been moved to the site.
Despite Leah's body being badly decomposed, her stomach contents gave a relatively accurate period when the death could have taken place.
This information meant detectives were able to help show that Brockley IT worker Clinton Bailey was the killer.
Senior forensic scientist at the Met's Evidence Recovery Unit, Dr Andrew Hart, worked on the case.
He said: "In the past decade alone a significant amount of knowledge and expertise has been invested by Met forensic scientists in those that have undertaken our research programme.
"This has yielded important and innovative research which continues to change the face of the forensic science scene."
Now, it is hoped that research examining how flies are affected by suitcase zips will reveal more useful secrets that insects can show detectives.
Distribution of eggs or larvae may indicate the presence of a gunshot wound, while, in cases of neglect or abuse, where a living person has become infested by insects, ageing the insects can indicate the period of mistreatment.
Toxicological analyses of insects that have fed on a drug user can indicate toxins present in the body when the remaining tissues are too degraded for analysis.
Dr Martin Hall, forensic entomologist from the Natural History Museum, explained: "This project is a great example of how our collaborative research is improving analysis of insect evidence.
"Forensic entomology research at the museum shows just how vital natural history collections are in helping us solve problems faced by society."
CLINTON Bailey killed his victim after meeting her on the internet, dumping her body and emptying her bank account.
Bailey, 36, used the cash to splash out on bottles of champagne for another girlfriend days after the care worker's death in 2009.
He even invited the woman round to enjoy the bubbly while Miss Questin's body was still stored in his garage.
Bailey had posed as a BBC executive and offered gifts to seduce women he met on the internet.
In fact, he had no steady job and struggled to make ends meet, and was described by Ms Questin's sister as "a mad and senseless killer".
The South African, of Malpas Road, was given a life sentence and told he must spend a minimum of 30 years in jail after being convicted of killing Miss Questin by an Old Bailey jury in 2010.