Saturday 24 February 2018

Massereene murders: DNA in getaway car matched alleged killer, court hears

David Young

A COMPLETE DNA profile matching one of the alleged killers of two British soldiers was found on a latex glove tip inside the getaway car used in the terrorist gun attack, a court heard.

A forensic expert also told Antrim Crown Court that a partial DNA profile obtained from matchsticks recovered from the partially burnt-out vehicle matched the other man accused of shooting dead Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar in Northern Ireland two years ago.

Sappers Quinsey, 23, and Azimkar, 21, were murdered by the Real IRA as they collected pizzas with comrades outside Massereene Army base in Antrim town in March 2009.

High-profile republican Colin Duffy, 44, from Forest Glade in Lurgan, Co Armagh, and Brian Shivers, 46, from Sperrin Mews in Magherafelt, Co Derry, deny two charges of murder and the attempted murder of six others - three soldiers, two pizza delivery drivers and a security guard.

On the ninth day of the trial, Dr Emma Watson, from Cellmark Forensic Services, said DNA from the glove tip found in the car could have been Duffy's.

"It matched the corresponding DNA components of Colin Duffy's reference DNA profile," she said.

With Duffy and Shivers watching from the dock, the scientist explained that it met the statistical ceiling for matching profiles.

"I found that the complete DNA profile obtained for this sample could have originated from Colin Duffy," she said.

"If this DNA originated from his then the result is as anticipated or, alternatively, if DNA didn't originate from him the result must match by chance and I estimate the chance of obtaining a matching DNA profile if DNA originated from someone other and unrelated to Colin Duffy to be less than one in a billion."

Crown counsel Terence Mooney QC asked how the DNA would likely have got on the glove.

"The findings are what I would have expected if someone had worn this item," replied Dr Watson.

The trial has already heard varying accounts of exactly how and when the 3.5cm by 2.3cm glove tip came to be found in the Vauxhall Cavalier after it was discovered on a rural road miles from the barracks.

The court heard that a profile could be considered complete when 20 DNA components were discovered.

Dr Watson revealed that a partial DNA profile from a seat belt buckle was also a match for Duffy.

"Sixteen (DNA) components matched corresponding DNA components of Colin Duffy's DNA profile," she explained.

Dr Watson said other DNA material was found on the belt buckle and as she did not have the technology to perform a statistical analysis on this mixed sample she sent it to an American specialist, Dr Mark Perlin.

Last week the trial heard Dr Perlin conclude that according to his study the DNA sample found on the belt buckle was 5.91 trillion times more likely to be Duffy's than someone else's.

Today Dr Watson also outlined her findings from analysis of DNA obtained from two match sticks found inside the car.

She said a partial profile had been detected and that it matched Shiver's.

"The initial partial profile has 15 confirmed components which matched corresponding DNA components of Mr Shiver's reference profile," she said.

The scientist said other unconfirmed DNA components on the matchsticks also matched Shiver's profile.

Dr Watson told judge Mr Justice Anthony Hart, who is sitting without a jury, that a process was then carried out to enhance the partial DNA profile.

She explained: "The enhanced result, that complete DNA profile, matched that of Mr Shivers and therefore I concluded that DNA recovered from the matchsticks could have originated from him."

But the expert noted that such enhanced results had to be assessed with some degree of added caution.

The case continues.

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