Saturday 16 December 2017

Murder-case DNA tests unreliable, court told

Deborah McAleese

A DNA expert has told a court that forensic evidence allegedly linking murder suspect Karen Walsh to the brutal death of a Newry grandmother is unreliable.

Ms Walsh was forensically connected to the murder of 81-year-old Maire Rankin after DNA samples were taken from her alleged victim's breasts and from a crucifix believed to have been used in the attack.

But giving evidence via a video link for Ms Walsh's defence team, Professor Dan Krane from Ohio University raised concern yesterday at Belfast Crown Court over the DNA evidence.

"The jurors simply do not have a reliable basis upon which to evaluate," he said. "The scientists cannot say for certain how incriminating these results are."

He added that there was no way of knowing in a "scientifically accurate way" how many other people could be included as possible contributors to the DNA sample.

Mrs Rankin's naked body was discovered in the bedroom of her Dublin Road home in Newry on Christmas Day 2008. She had been beaten and sexually assaulted.

It is the prosecution case that mother-of-one Ms Walsh beat her neighbour with a crucifix in a drunken rage after the devoted Christian, who was recovering from a chest infection, questioned her lifestyle.

The prosecution and defence finished their evidence yesterday. Legal speeches from the prosecution and defence will begin on Monday.

Irish Independent

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