Sheffield student’s gruesome role investigating murders and suicides

Forensic science student Tom Cotterill, who went on a life-changing work experience trip to Thailand, pictured centre.
Forensic science student Tom Cotterill, who went on a life-changing work experience trip to Thailand, pictured centre.
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A FORENSIC science student’s ‘life-changing’ work experience placement saw him head to Thailand to work on cases of suicide and mystery deaths.

Tom Cotterill went far beyond the usual office filing offers to secure a place at the University of Chaing Mai’s Department of Forensic Medicine - gaining experience in DNA testing and autopsies.

The Eckington 20-year-old worked on a double suicide of a soldier and his girlfriend and a body which had been found hanged in woodland.

Tom, a former Mount St Mary’s School pupil, told The Star it had been ‘eye-opening’.

He added: “I worked on seven autopsies. One came through from a motorbike accident and he wasn’t wearing a helmet. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to see.

“Another was somebody found hanged who had been left for up for six months so the body was mummified.

“It is gruesome but at the same time it was interesting.”

Tom, studying forensic science at Nottingham Trent University, took the placement as part of his course.

He secured the place through personal contacts, also spent time working with qualified doctors at a leading hospital and on DNA testing.

Tom also saw how experts in Thailand use tools such as everyday hacksaws, secateurs and knifes in their work because there is less funding for specialised equipment.

And he was able to work with Professor Tanin Bhoopat, a leading expert of forensic science in South East Asia, as well as helping doctors with their English.

He said: “It was fantastic to get the placement, and it was certainly life-changing.”