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Scientific aspects of cold case reviews Presented by: Ian Hamilton Biology Manager SPSA (Glasgow) SIPR Annual Conference 12.09.2007.

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Presentation on theme: "Scientific aspects of cold case reviews Presented by: Ian Hamilton Biology Manager SPSA (Glasgow) SIPR Annual Conference 12.09.2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 Scientific aspects of cold case reviews Presented by: Ian Hamilton Biology Manager SPSA (Glasgow) SIPR Annual Conference 12.09.2007

2 Named Suspect Murder of Mary Gallacher. Springburn 1978 In 1998 person named as having committed the murder In December 1999 main line of enquiry came to nothing however deceased’s pubic hair sample located and DNA recovered from semen. Bad news – did not match suspect Good news – matched person on Database. Angus Sinclair subsequently convicted.

3 Wronged Partner In December 2006 an ex partner of Robert Kelly told a friend that he had killed Agnes Mechan. On 30 August 2002 Agnes Mechan was reported as missing and no trace of her despite police and family activity. On 24 January a body was found hidden beneath the floorboards of his house. DNA analysis of the mummified body confirmed her to be Agnes Mechan.

4 Family pressure Family members often cannot accept apparent police inactivity. In some cases this is because there has been no crime proved due to an inconclusive PM result. Did she fall or was she pushed? Family liaison may produce new line of enquiry to take the enquiry forward.

5 Detection in similar case Following on from the murder of Angelika Kluk and the subsequent conviction of Peter Tobin, the enquiry into the disappearance of Vicki Hamilton was reviewed and a house occupied by Tobin at the time was examined. Ground radar Forensic archaeologist Luminol

6 Scientist review DNA analysis became available in Scotland on 1 April 1990. During the late 1980s samples were sent to establishments south of the border. In 1996 the National DNA Database was introduced, however the technology was not compatible with the previous method. Samples were retained in unsolved cases and loaded to the new database. Murder of Mary Lynch, December 1987. DNA work carried out by FSS in 1988. In 1997 DNA from semen was loaded to Database. In January 1999 a match was obtained from a sample from Richard Crawford taken for a drugs offence

7 Police Review ACPOS guidelines are for unsolved cases to be reviewed biennially Some cases have therefore been reviewed several times as technology has evolved. Investigating officer usually had to carry out the review between current investigations. Do you do something now, and use up available material or wait to see if technology improves? Drip feeding to laboratories. Strathclyde Police have now appointed a full time serious crime review officer. Potential for deluge into the laboratories

8 Problems Location and integrity of productions Aids Reference samples Laser capture micro-dissection Mitochondrial DNA Y chromosome DNA

9 Is the sample crime related? DNA found on prostitute. Is it from killer or client? Problem

10 Changes in knowledge / procedures Results in Contamination from personnel at locus Time spent eliminating police personnel

11 Police expectations Senior Investigating Officer’s ‘ignorance’ Lack of knowledge – close liaison between police and scientist I believe in miracles – Unrealistic expectations. Request to try to obtain DNA from items which had been buried for 2 years. Communication between scientist and police to understand each other’s point of view

12 New technologies Low copy number (LCN) DNA High probability of contamination issues Familial DNA ie perpetrator is not on database but a relative may be. Pandora’s box -When do you commit resources? Geographical and behavioural profiling

13 The future Will the need for this die out as our current cases are examined using extremely sensitive technologies from productions gathered by scene examiners, scientists and police officers aware of contamination issues from scenes controlled by trained Crime Scene Managers? Probably this need will continue as science continues to advance. In the future we may be able to report The serial rapist is between 5 feet 7 inches and 5 feet 10 inches, with brown hair and from the clan Fraser

14 Any questions ?

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