They don’t spend their days chasing and arresting bad guys, but their work can be the difference between bringing someone to justice or seeing them walk free.
They don’t spend their days chasing and arresting bad guys, but their work can be the difference between bringing someone to justice or seeing them walk free.

Behind the scenes with real life crime scene investigators

THERE are days on the job that stand out for Wayne Boniface and Vanessa Lobegeier for all the wrong reasons.

Acting Sgt Boniface was haunted in the aftermath of the tragic death of a young boy left inside a daycare bus at Edmonton last year.

Sgt Lobegeier spent hours and days examining the inside of Murray St's house of horrors in the immediate wake of the infamous and devastating murders of eight young children.

But they routinely have to push their own anguish to one side in a bid to find the truth and the answers for the Far North's victims of crime.

Cairns police scientific officer Sgt Vanessa Lobegeier and Scenes of Crime officer Acting Sgt Wayne Boniface swab a knife, potential evidence in a simulated crime scene training exercise set up at Pezzutti Park, Woree. Picture: Brendan Radke
Cairns police scientific officer Sgt Vanessa Lobegeier and Scenes of Crime officer Acting Sgt Wayne Boniface swab a knife, potential evidence in a simulated crime scene training exercise set up at Pezzutti Park, Woree. Picture: Brendan Radke


The pair and their colleagues within the region's Scenes of Crime and Scientific units don't spend their days chasing and arresting bad guys, but their work is usually the stuff that can be the difference between bringing someone to justice or seeing them walk free.

"You know this job opens your eyes to the very evils of this world, the all too brutal result of what one human being can do to another human being," Scenes of Crime Acting Sgt Boniface said.

"But it's about being out in the community helping those who have never chosen to be a victim of crime, to achieve a resolution."

The pair, who are senior members of their respective units, gave the Cairns Post a rare glimpse inside the headquarters of "CSI Cairns".

Cairns police scenes of crime officer Wayne Boniface analyses a large knife under short wavelength light, set up for a simulated stabbing crime scene training exercise. Picture: Brendan Radke
Cairns police scenes of crime officer Wayne Boniface analyses a large knife under short wavelength light, set up for a simulated stabbing crime scene training exercise. Picture: Brendan Radke

Their office sits in a rear corner of the Sheridan St station and include rooms that could otherwise be mistaken for school science labs.

There are specialised dark rooms for analysing fingerprints, sections for storing and preserving crucial evidence and an alcove filled with files, some which look so weathered they likely predate most of the 20 staff working there.

They can get called to just about anything - murders, sexual assaults, suspicious fires - and can be sent anywhere around the region.

Both concede they've learned to literally switch off their emotions when heading into something horrible.

"Over time once you've been doing it for so long you get used to switching off your emotional side and switching on the work brain, but after the job is finished that's when a crime scene you've been to can start to creep back in," Acting Sgt Boniface said.

Cairns police Scenes of Crime officer Acting Sgt Wayne Boniface photographs a tyre tread mark in dirt with the help of scientific officer Sgt Vanessa Lobegeier at a simulated crime scene training exercise at Woree. Picture: Brendan Radke
Cairns police Scenes of Crime officer Acting Sgt Wayne Boniface photographs a tyre tread mark in dirt with the help of scientific officer Sgt Vanessa Lobegeier at a simulated crime scene training exercise at Woree. Picture: Brendan Radke

"(The daycare death) that took a few days to process, it was a hard pill to swallow.

"But you get a lot more information (on route to a crime scene) than the poor first responders who just kicked a door in and found a dead body.

"You know some of the jobs are going to stick with you, you know it's going to hurt … but you're here for those victims."

Sgt Lobegeier added: "At a scene you need to put things aside and look at it without any perception".

"I think going there with such a scientific basis to examine a scene you compartmentalise and absolve yourself of the personal nature of it if you can help it.

"You need to keep focus because you want answers."

Originally published as CSI Cairns: Rare glimpse into chilling police role


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