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Crime: DNA Database

Volume 691: debated on Thursday 26 April 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 8 March (Official Report, col. 318), whether they can identify up to 12 so-called cold cases of unsolved murder or rape where a conviction was subsequently secured through interrogation of the National DNA Database. [HL2719]

The 12 following cases are among many that demonstrate the benefits of the National DNA Database.

Ian O'Callaghan In 1994, Shirley Leach, a 66 year-old widow, was sexually assaulted and murdered in a toilet at Bury bus station. In 2006, Ian O'Callaghan was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving and a DNA sample taken that matched DNA found at the crime scene. O'Callaghan was jailed for life for the murder in November 2006.

James Lloyd Between 1983 and 1986 a number of women in the Rotherham area were raped by a man who appeared to have an obsession with their shoes, which he stole. The cases were reopened in 2001. DNA taken from the crimes did not match directly with anyone on the database but did show a partial match with a woman whose DNA had been sampled when she was arrested for a drink-driving offence, showing that a close relative of hers could have been involved. This led ultimately to the conviction in 2006 of James Lloyd for four rapes and two attempted rapes.

Lee and Stephen Ainsby In 1995 a 17 year-old girl was walking home from a night out with friends in Banbury when she was forced into a car by two men, taken to an isolated rural area and repeatedly raped. In 2003 Lee Ainsby was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and a DNA sample was taken. In 2005 the evidence from the case was reanalysed and samples were loaded on the DNA database. One matched Lee Ainsby; another did not match anyone on the database but must have come from a close relative of Lee. A DNA sample was taken from Lee's brother Stephen, which matched the second sample from the crime. Lee and Stephen Ainsby were convicted and received 10 years each for rape and five years each for kidnapping.

Darren Jennings On Boxing Day 1991, a 20 year-old woman was on her way home when she was dragged into a Manchester builders' yard and raped. In 2004 the case was reopened and a DNA sample was recovered from the evidence retained. This matched Darren Jennings who was jailed for eight years for rape in October 2005.

David Kirby In 1989 an 18 year-old and her boyfriend were held up at gunpoint in a car park in Tunbridge Wells and the girl was raped. The case was reopened when technological improvements allowed DNA to be retrieved from the evidence. In April 2005, David Kirby was jailed for 13 years on one count of rape and two of false imprisonment.

Paul Collings In October 1989 a student was raped in her bedroom at the University of Sussex. Two months later, a student was raped and another indecently assaulted in their bedroom at the University of Kent. In 2004 the case was reopened and DNA taken from samples was found to match that of Paul Collings, who was found guilty of two rapes and an indecent assault in 2006.

Isse Botan A 22 year-old American tourist on her first trip abroad to London in 1993 asked a man for directions. He dragged her into a disused garage and raped her. In 2005 the case was reopened. Technical improvements allowed DNA to be retrieved from the evidence. It matched that from Isse Botan and he was jailed for 12 years for rape in January 2006.

Neville Douglas In 1991 an 18 year-old accepted a lift home after leaving a London nightclub and was raped in the car. The case was reopened and DNA was retrieved that matched that from Neville Douglas. He was jailed for nine years for rape in 2005.

David Decoteau In 1996 a woman was raped in the back office of the west London shop that she worked in. A cold-case review in 2006 matched a sample from the crime with David Decoteau, who was found guilty of rape in January 2007.

Ricky Brown In 1992 a woman agreed to go for a drink with a man she met in a launderette in Orpington. As they walked together she became suspicious and tried to escape but he raped her. Following a cold-case review, Ricky Brown was convicted of the offence in January 2007.

James Marshall In 1992 a woman was walking to a fair in Bury when she was dragged into some scrubland and raped. After a cold-case review, James Marshall was jailed for 18 years for rape in 2006.

Graham Darbyshire In 1995 a woman walking her dog in Witton Park, Blackburn, was raped. Technical improvements allowed a DNA sample taken from the attack to be matched with Graham Darbyshire, who was jailed for life for this attack and another in 1993.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 8 March (Official Report, col. 318), whether they can identify up to six so-called cold cases of murder or rape where a conviction was subsequently quashed through interrogation of the National DNA Database. [HL2720]

“Cold-case review” is a process of examining past unsolved crimes to see if new evidence can be gathered in the light of scientific advances, rather than an attempt to prove that convicted persons are in fact innocent. We cannot therefore identify cases where convictions were quashed by cold-case review. However, DNA does indeed eliminate the innocent through work done during the investigation, before the stage where charges are brought. For example, in the case of the murders of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth in 1983 and 1986, a local youth confessed to the second murder. DNA testing eliminated him and later led to the conviction of Colin Pitchfork for both crimes. In the case of the murder of Caroline Dickinson on a school trip to France in 1996, a French vagrant confessed and was eliminated by DNA evidence, before the eventual conviction of Francisco Montes.