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Diary of a Drugs Expert

February 01 2024

Julian Dunnill is an experienced Drugs Expert who joined Keith Borer Consultants after the closure of the Forensic Science Service. In this article, he offers a fascinating insight into a typical week at the end of 2023.


A very early start to travel to Basildon Crown Court after a pre-Christmas meal at friends the night before (bad planning). The venue changed en route to Southend-on-Sea. A quick map check shows me that they’re not far from each other, fortunately. Both courts are new to me, even after 34 years in the job. It was nice driving in the hours of daylight, and I arrived at Court to blank faces on security staff who couldn’t find the case on listings. Intuition led me to the barrister, so I had the right Court after all, but the listings hadn’t been updated. I had a conference with the barrister involving the critique of the scale of drugs trading that was assessed by the Prosecution using an algorithm program on the drug line telephone.

As often happens, another matter took precedence in the morning. After a bleak lunch from the local supermarket, I listened to evidence from my opposite number in Essex Police and gave my own evidence. A wet and dark drive home.


After the long day on Monday, I was glad to have to have been stood down from Leeds Crown Court and it was a good chance to catch up on emails after my day out. Several enquiries in the KBC drugs inbox were received from Solicitors. Having assessed these, I provided an estimate on matters involving another drugs line scale of trading assessment.

I began drafting two reports: one on the extraction and valuation of DMT drug (Dimenthyltryptamine), involving some Internet research, the other a POCA case involving multi-kilo of drugs and commentary on ‘wages’ for individuals within an Organised Crime Group (OCG).

Issued two completed reports on patterns of drug use and unusual presentation of crack cocaine.


Another early start in pitch blackness. Drove to Manchester airport for a 08:00 flight to Dublin, the last of 10 such trips this year. From the airport, travel for the first time to Ireland’s new forensic science facility, an impressive set up in Co Kildare. I examined a number of packages allegedly containing cocaine and commissioned purity analysis at the facility. After the 2-hour examination, waited at the airport with a meal deal. Created training material for new colleagues on drug legislation issues to show my boss I am making good use of the down time! Entered Manchester’s rush hour, better known as purgatory, and made it home just in time for curry night at our local Indian.


Caught up on emails and enquiries. Provided an estimate of fees for another case to deal with matters of drugs line scale of trading. Discussed a further case with the instructing solicitor in relation to text message interpretation to assess if the commodity being discussed is Class A or Class B; await further information.

Completed peer review of a colleague’s case involving the quality and value of cannabis materials. Made plans for an examination of drugs at a police station next week. Completed a report on commissioned THC-level quantification where the client states the cannabis was not usable/had no value.


Almost the weekend! Managed to dodge two more possible Court attendances today - a shame in some respects as, perhaps weirdly, I think giving evidence is the best part of the job.

After more information gleaned, provided an estimate of fees for the case regarding Class A or Class B commodities in messages received earlier in the week. Continued ploughing through a very large case, estimated to take over a week to report, regarding text message interpretation for a multi-drug supplying operation. Had a telephone conversation with a prospective new drugs consultant for KBC (a Police expert witness looking for a change). Good chat.

Here endeth the week, and now to my own drug of choice – a single malt whisky to brace myself for a weekend of never-ending DIY, whether at home or at my offspring’s respective houses.


Julian Dunnill

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