Sunday 15 December 2019

DNA database has linked burglar to 14 different crime scenes

A machine at Garda HQ for extracting DNA
A machine at Garda HQ for extracting DNA
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

A single burglar has been linked to 14 different crime scenes over a five-year period, thanks to the newly-launched DNA database.

The new high-tech weapon being used by gardaí to solve crime has also linked a man suspected of carrying out a theft at a building site with an alleged rape in a different location at a later date.

Massive advances in how evidence can be collected at crime scenes, combined with the state-of-the-art DNA database, mean clusters of crimes are being identified, which link people to several crime scenes in a way that has never been possible before.

Highly qualified technicians at Forensic Science Ireland, which was previously known as the Forensic Science Laboratory, can now extract DNA from blood, semen, saliva, sweat and even areas where skin has touched a surface. They only need a microscopic amount of material to identify a suspect's DNA profile.

This means that gardaí can collect evidence from surfaces at crime scenes, and from cigarette butts, drink cans and clothing, and send them to Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park. The samples are then profiled and the information is stored in the database.

"The database only went live on November 20 and already we have identified crime clusters," said Dr Dyan Daly of Forensic Science Ireland (FSI).

"It is extremely satisfying when you see the links forming between information from one crime scene and others and that chain of information can then help investigators narrow down a list of suspects from the details of the combined crimes.

"If someone is arrested as a suspect, then the gardaí take a DNA sample from that person and if it matches with what is on the database, then they can begin building a case," Dr Daly explained.

"It is already paying dividends in recognising clusters, and a number of serious crimes have been linked."

Irish Independent

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