Cleland’s delay …
DS Leane handed over SM’s belongings to Professor Cleland in January, not long after collecting the suitcase from the train station.
Nothing had been fingerprinted.
Cleland told Leane he found the TS slip three months later, in April.
When the suitcase was returned to Leane a box of Bryant and May matches (and some soiled underwear) had been included.
In his deposition Cleland said that after finding the TS slip and putting it back he had difficulty finding it the second time.
Cleland searched the clothing as soon as he received it and found the TS slip in a well hidden fob pocket. He put it back.
Leane contacted Cleland in April and asked him to complete his examination and return the evidence as the June date of the inquest was drawing close.
Cleland made a second search, looking for the slip he had found and put back three months earlier. It was here he had some difficulty in finding it. Perhaps he forgot in which of the two pairs of trousers he had initially been successful.
He informed Leane about the TS slip when he returned it with the other evidence.
Leane realised that after three months, some evidence contamination* and many handlings, any fingerprints lifted from the evidence would be more likely to belong to Cleland and Cowan or be too smeared to be of use.
*There is no explanation for the additional items that were in the suitcase when Cleland returned it. Perhaps he was a pipe smoker and the matches were his. The underwear is for another day.