Photo: Courtesy of West Midlands Police

A forensic specialist with West Midlands Police is proving a leading light across the world - as a knot expert.

Rob Bone is often sought for advice whenever a knot - made from materials such as rope, scarves or clothes - is recovered from a scene.

By the type of knot and way it’s tied, Bone can help establish if someone was a murder victim, held captive during a robbery or has deliberately bound themselves or even taken their own life.

The senior forensic scientist based in Birmingham has been involved in hundreds of investigations across the West Midlands and also asked to share his expertise with international police forces.

His expertise was called on to help detectives probing the high-profile death of Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky in Ascot, a series of sex attacks in Australia where women had been tied up and an investigation by Ireland’s Garda into a series of burglaries where victims had been bound by their hands and feet.

He said: "I started working in forensics in 1987 alongside a knot specialist and my interest was sparked by his vast knowledge and how he could help police investigations.

"There are more than 4,000 different knots! It’s not about being able to identify them all but more what you can learn from how they are tied and the materials used.

"Knot examination can help show if someone has bound themselves - maybe to stage a burglary - or if there was genuine third-party involvement.

"The signs I look for is how secure the knot is, what material has been used and are there signs that whoever tied it has knowledge of knots - for example, a rock climber is likely to use different knots to a fisherman.

"You look at whether a person could get themselves free: if someone can’t escape it would indicate a lot of time and effort has been put into creating the knot.

"But the key is to be objective … it is about putting what you see into the context of the case."

Photo: Courtesy of West Midlands Police

Although he is an expert at analysing knots, there is a wider scale to Bone’s role as a forensic scientist.

He was able to assist in the conviction of a man who killed his partner in Standbridge Way, Tipton, just by the footprints on the floor.

Bone was able to show that the victim - who was found with multiple stab wounds to the neck - had been forcibly pushed down on the bed against her will.

Cezary Sobiewski, 40, was sentenced to at least 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty to the murder of Barbara Baraniecka in November 2015.

But Bone is happy to be a go-to man in relation to knot advice. "I still find it fascinating now; it is all about problem solving and that is what I am here to do," he said.