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Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

New DNA database helped gardaí solve two murders and hundreds of burglaries

The database has been in operation for 15 months.

THE NEW DNA database launched 15 months ago has helped gardaí with 625 crimes including murders, sexual assaults and hundreds of burglaries.

The annual report from Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) has revealed the database is linking one in every five crime scene samples to individuals. Some 9,048 profiles were uploaded onto the database by the end of 2016 and it linked 385 people to specific crimes – in some cases multiple crimes.

This included two murders, five sexual assaults, 295 burglaries, 42 robberies/thefts and 57 cases of criminal damage. Today, FSI provided examples of a number of cases that have been aided by the existence of this new database.

The identity of Kenneth O’Brien, whose body parts were found at a canal in Celbridge, Co Kildare in January last year, was confirmed using the new database.

FSI said it carried out a number of examinations and DNA testing on other items and exhibits in this case. A suspect has been charged with murder in this case and the trial is scheduled to be held later this year.

The database also helped identify a man suspected of sexually assaulting a teenage girl. The 15-year-old went missing for a period of time while out socialising with friends in November 2014 and it was believed that she was sexually assaulted.

A sexual offences kit report was issued from FSI and this indicated that a DNA profile was obtained from the semen on vaginal swabs but the source of this profile was unknown. However, the unknown DNA was entered into the database when it commenced in November 2015. Within the first three months of operation, a sample was submitted from a suspect who had been detained for a traffic offence and was found to match the profile from the semen.

In more than 200 cases, burglars were linked to their crimes using this database. Among these is a burglary on 29 July 2016, when a man entered the home of an 80-year-old, armed with a weapon and looking for money. A piece of blue latex glove was left at the scene and a DNA profile was obtained from it for comparison with samples taken from suspects that had been previously detained for serious offences. A match was found to a man who had been detained two months earlier for public order offences.

FSI said it has diverted significant resources to helping gardaí in their investigation into gangland crime. They have taken DNA profiles from weapons, clothing and other items and analysed large seizures of drugs and clothing for firearm residue.

Speaking at the launch of the annual report, Dr Sheilia Willis, director of FSI, said figures show just how effective the database has been in helping gardaí to tackle crime.

“The database really is providing itself to be a very valuable crime intelligence tool,” she said.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald also said the database’s crime-solving capacity had “exceeded all of our expectations”.

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