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Blood found on carpet in home of couple accused of female genital mutilation of daughter, court hears

A DNA expert told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court the blood matched that of the injured girl.

File photo of the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin.
File photo of the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

BLOOD FOUND ON the carpet in the Dublin home of a couple accused of carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) on their daughter matched the DNA of the child, a court has been told.

The couple, who can’t be named for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to carrying out FGM on their daughter on 16 September 2016.

The man, aged in his 30s, and woman, aged in her 20s, also pleaded not guilty to one count of child cruelty on the same day.

They claim their daughter sustained her injuries after falling on a toy, something that was disputed by doctors who examined the girl after she presented at hospital.

The trial continued before Judge Elma Sheahan at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today.

Dr John Hoade, a DNA expert with Forensic Science Ireland, told the court he accompanied gardaí during a search of the couple’s home on 23 September 2016. He requested that samples of carpet and underlay be removed from one of the rooms as there were stains on it, although it appeared as though an attempt had been made to clean the carpet.

“I went there with members of the (Garda) Technical Bureau to search for trace evidence such as blood staining.”

Hoade said that on arriving in the couple’s home “an area was pointed out on the carpet” which looked as though it “had been cleaned”, adding: “I didn’t observe blood on the carpet.”

“We observed light blood staining underneath the carpet, on the underside of the carpet, and also on the underlay. I sampled these items for the presence of blood. This test yielded a positive result for the presence of blood.

“I asked for Detective Sergeant [Thomas] Power to cut out these areas of blood staining from the carpet and the underlay,” he said, noting that Power sealed the samples in a plastic bag and handed them to him at the scene. 

Hoade confirmed that when he tested one of the pieces of carpet, the blood stains matched the DNA of the girl who was injured. Photos of the carpet were shown in court.

Reading from a statement he wrote after testing the blood, he said: “The DNA provided from the sample of blood on the underlay matched that of [the girl].”

“I estimate the chance of finding this profile, if the DNA had come from someone unrelated to [her], is considerably less than one in 1,000 million (one billion).”

Hoade said that a second sample of carpet and underlay “gave a partial DNA profile which contained elements present in [the girl's] profile” when tested. He noted that there was a partial DNA profile because there was “insufficient material there” or “because the blood was diluted” or there was perhaps not that much blood on this sample in first place.

Hoade confirmed that he also examined the toy the girl is alleged to have fallen on, stating: “I found no blood on the toy.”

Previous evidence

The State is not arguing that the couple carried out FGM on their daughter, rather that they “intended to aid, abet, counsel or procure” the procedure, prosecuting counsel Shane Costelloe SC told the court yesterday.

The accused brought their daughter to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin (OLCHC) on 16 September 2016. They asked for immediate assistance because she was bleeding.

The young girl, who was just under two years old at the time of the incident, was triaged and brought to the emergency room, the court heard. 

A paediatric surgeon, Professor Thambipillai Sri Paran, carried out a procedure to stop the bleeding. Paran, who gave evidence yesterday, believed that the injury the girl sustained was non-accidental. The head of her clitoris had been removed.

The case was referred to gardaí, who began to investigate, the court was told. 

The toy the girl is alleged to have fallen on was shown in court today and yesterday. It was described as an activity centre with a steering wheel and other protruding objects including a mirror.

Paran said the girl’s injuries were not consistent with falling on a toy. 

Paran yesterday told Costelloe that after the surgery was carried out, he spoke to the girl’s father about how she was injured. Paran said the father told him the girl had a dirty nappy and that her mother brought her into the bathroom in the family home to change her.

“[She] was coming out of the bathroom without a nappy on and something happened and while she was moving backwards she fell onto a toy and sustained the injury,” Paran said of the conversation with the girl’s father.

Paran said that, at a “much later stage” he saw the toy in question at a meeting with other medical consultants and gardaí.

“The story didn’t match the injury that I saw,” Paran said, stating: “I felt that this is not a crush injury, if you fall onto something it will crush.” Tissue would typically hang loose if it was crushed and this was not the case in this instance, he told the court. 

When being questioned by defence solicitors, Paran said: “When the story and the injury doesn’t tally, we know we are legally obliged to raise the alarm.”

FGM has been outlawed in Ireland since 2012 but no one has been convicted to date. The offence, on conviction, carries a sentence of up to 14 years.

The Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012 lists FGM as “any act the purpose of which, or the effect of which, is the excision, infibulation or other mutilation of the whole or any part of the labia majora, labia minora, prepuce of the clitoris, clitoris or vagina of a girl or woman”.

Judge Sheahan today informed the jury of eight men and four women that they will not be required again until Monday as certain legal matters will be dealt with in their absence tomorrow.

The trial continues.

Comments are closed due to ongoing legal proceedings.

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Órla Ryan

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