Catching History's Criminals: The Forensics Story

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Instruments of Murder

Series 1 - Episode 3 Instruments of Murder



Surgeon and author Gabriel Weston enjoys firing a gun just a little bit too much, as her absorbing series about crime investigation comes to an end. “It feels nice and it smells nice, too!” she trills, obviously delighted, after she shoots at a target at a “ballistics intelligence” unit.

But Weston isn’t tooled up just for fun. Her shotgun practice illustrates how bullets mark when they’re fired; this can be crucial in tracing weapons back to perpetrators.

She looks at a revolution in arson investigation, and pads herself up to the point where she looks as if she’s about to take on an entire army of Samurai warriors as she demonstrates how scientists debunk claims of “accidental” stabbings.


Gabriel Weston explores the forensic advances that have elevated murder weapons from mere instruments to crucial pieces of evidence. She sees how arsenic, the undetectable weapon of choice in the 19th century, was exposed as the killer thanks to one simple chemical test, and finds out how distinctive marks on a victim's skull led to the weapon and, in turn, the killer. Gabriel also looks at the latest forensic developments, from 3-D laser scanning that can reconstruct the sequence of events at the scene of a gun crime to the pioneering chemistry able to determine where in the world someone has been based on just a few strands of their hair.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Gabriel Weston
Executive Producer Jacqueline Smith
Series Producer Graeme Thomson
Education Reality