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1990 – 2010
marking 20 years of DnA analysis for the new Zealand criminal justice system
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Our forensic scientists have been instrumental in major technological advances. and particularly between ESR and the New Zealand Police. using DNA to fight crime was unheard of. users of the criminal justice system.It seems hard to believe that only a little more than two decades ago. The development of DNA ‘fingerprinting’ revolutionised forensic science and the investigation of crime worldwide. New Zealand’s ‘hit rate. This comprehensive forensic service is underpinned by robust research and the latest DNA technology.’ linking individuals to crimes through the databank. The partnership between ESR provides independent impartial forensic service expertise to support the New Zealand justice system.esr. saving resources and money in criminal investigations. Behind the scenes it can be the tool that excludes suspects or changes the focus of a police investigation. should ensure that New Zealand retains its place as a world leader in the use of this crime fighting technology. Page 2 Page 1 www.cri. and it is also an extremely important tool in exonerating the innocent. Our DNA expertise is recognised throughout the world and our forensic systems and scientists are sought after by other jurisdictions particularly in Australasia. most notably in the development of low copy number trace DNA and interpretation of DNA profiles. When confronted with DNA evidence many offenders plead guilty. and through the court system. Often the investigation of a major crime using DNA technology has led to a number of different and often completely unrelated crimes being solved.nz . It is now routinely used to investigate a range of crimes from burglaries. In the early years DNA profiling was primarily used to solve serious crimes. to homicides. is one of the highest in the world. New Zealand has continually been at the forefront of developing and utilising forensic DNA technology. The continual development and improvements in the use of forensic DNA technology has enabled some of New Zealand’s most challenging cold cases to be solved. The New Zealand criminal justice system has benefitted from two decades of continuous development and implementation of forensic DNA.
forensic DnA timeline Mid 1990s – 2000 1985 British scientists.esr. Drs Peter Gill.nz .cri. Alec Jeffreys and Dave Werrett publish “Forensic application of DNA fingerprints.000th individual profile added to databank Page 2 Page 3 www.” ESR introduces more sensitive and discriminating DNA technology 2001 Theresa Cormack ‘cold case’ solved using improved DNA technology 2007 Increased discrimination between DNA profiles 2004 early 1990s Amplification of DNA New Zealand exports forensic database expertise 2006 Y-STR introduced 1987–1988 NZ scientists begin training in the new technology Introduction of DNA profiling into casework in New Zealand 2006 Low Copy Number technology introduced to NZ casework 2005 Robots introduced to the DNA laboratory 2008 New extraction technology introduced 1995–1996 1990 First DNA evidence presented in NZ court National DNA Databank established 2002 NZ’s purpose built forensic DNA laboratory opens 2009 – 100.
Michael James Pengelly was accused of the murder of an elderly woman in her Auckland home. “Forensic application of DNA fingerprints. driving the development of innovative methods in molecular genetics.cri. Joseph Thompson admitted a total of 61 charges of sexual 1987-1988 new Zealand scientists begin training in the new technology In 1987 forensic scientist Dr Steve Cordiner was awarded a fellowship to study the new technique with Dr Geoff Chambers at Victoria University. These were blood typed. It’s proved to be the biggest single advance in the field since conventional fingerprinting. was given responsibility for managing the introduction of DNA profiling into casework in New Zealand. This was done using blood typing. It was these types of investigations that provided the impetus for the establishment of the NZ National DNA Databank. Police recognised that a large number of sexual assaults in South Auckland between 1983 and 1994 occurred with the same modus operandi and developed a profile of an assailant. and in 1988 a group of NZ forensic scientists went to the UK to train at the Home Office Laboratory with Drs Gill and Werrett When they returned to NZ they began establishing DNA profiling laboratories. His DNA profile matched the DNA linked crimes. forensic DNA analysis is key to either conviction or exoneration of suspects. On the first day of his trial he pleaded guilty to all cases where there was DNA evidence except for the homicide. Funding was provided to establish new DNA testing facilities.nz . Alec Jeffreys and Dave Werrett published a paper in Nature.A brief history of forensic DnA analysis in new Zealand 1985 In 1985 British scientists. Drs Peter Gill. This meant the DNA could be extracted and amplified (copied many times) to obtain a DNA profile. In a paper to mark 20 years since the discovery Drs Gill and Prof Jobling said – “Sherlock Holmes said ‘it has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important’. but he never could have imagined that such a little thing.esr. A mass DNA screen was undertaken and 700 suspects were eliminated from the investigation. accidents and disasters.” At the time of the DNA breakthrough in the UK. One male on the suspect list matched. ESR reviewed old cases and was able to link 15 of the sexual assaults using the new DNA testing. then DNA tested. DNA testing showed that the blood could be from the accused. Results were obtained within a few days rather than the previous timeframes of weeks. In May 1996 Rewa was arrested following an attack on a 16 year old girl.” This provided a method for identification of individuals by DNA profiling and was the beginning of DNA testing in forensic science. could become perhaps the most powerful single tool in the multifaceted fight against crime. Page 5 www. and Pengelly was later convicted of the murder. statistics and the use of massive intelligence databases. In 1996 DNA linked another series of rapes in central Auckland to the South Auckland rapes. services for the New Zealand Police including the identification and grouping of bloodstains and semen stains. In 1995 seven rapes and a homicide in South Auckland were linked by DNA testing. At the same time Dr Margaret Lawton. He was found guilty in 26 other cases. violation and 68 other offences and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. It is also central to the identification of victims of crimes. the DNA molecule. New Zealand’s DSIR Chemistry Division provided forensic Page 4 1990 DnA evidence presented in new Zealand court In 1990 Dr Lawton presented DNA evidence for the first time in a New Zealand court in Q v Pengelly. The new DNA-based method would prove to be far more discriminating than conventional blood typing for the identification of individuals involved in crime. A second trial found him guilty of the homicide. Early 1990s Amplification of DnA The first PCR-based methods were introduced into NZ in the early 1990s. Twenty years after the development of DNA fingerprinting. Government Analyst at DSIR Auckland. Various bloodstains were located in the house. A mass DNA screen of several thousand men was undertaken. Malcolm Rewa headed the suspect list but couldn’t be located. It was found that some of the bloodstains could not be from the deceased.
This work led the way for the use of forensic DNA analysis methods in the investigation of historic crimes of international significance. murdered in 1918.cri. as well as small numbers of spermatozoa. the new Zealand national DnA Databank was the second national DnA Databank in the world.esr. The increased sensitivity allowed for results to be obtained from smaller forensic samples such as bloodspots and saliva stains.nz . Discrimination between individuals improved from likelihood ratios of one in 100s in the early days to one in hundreds of millions. police arrested Jules Mikus for Cormack’s murder. including war crimes. the first being established in the United Kingdom in 1995. by comparing the two databases. 1995-1996 national DnA Databank established The introduction of the Criminal Investigations (Blood Samples) Act 1995. Mid 1990s – 2000 In 1995 ESR introduced the more sensitive and discriminating STR (Short Tandem Repeat) technology into forensic casework. and ultimately the use of these and similar techniques in the investigation of mass disasters. In the UK in 1993 –‘94 Dr Gill was leading the team which confirmed the identity of the remains of the Romanov family.the national DnA Database contains DNA profiles from individuals and the crime sample Database contains DNA profiles from unsolved crimes. • the National DNA Database • the Crime Sample Database. Image depicts raw data from forensic DNA sequencer Page 6 Page 7 www. then 10. Sensitivity also improved with modifications to technology and equipment used. a minute sample of semen from the Theresa Cormack case was able to be profiled. ESR increased the number of STR loci tested from 3 to 6. possible suspects can be identified and crimes linked. and the subsequent investigation which disproved the claim of Anna Anderson to be the Duchess Anastasia. Fifteen years after Cormack’s death. The New Zealand National DNA Databank was implemented in August 1996 and is composed of two separate databases. 2001 cold case solved using improved DnA technology Due to advances in genetic fingerprinting. legislated for a “DNA Profile Databank”. This involved the analysis of three STR DNA loci plus a gender test. Between 1996 and 2000. When introduced.
led by Dr Gill. ESR assisted with DNA expertise and systems for disaster victim identification.esr. 2008 new extraction technology introduced DNA IQ™. 2005 robots introduced to parts of the DnA laboratory Automation enables faster processing and help ensures consistency. specific regions of DNA on the Y male chromosome are targeted and copied many times. 2009 100. This equates to a 50-fold increase in sensitivity. By 2006 a mere smudge. These are typically homicides or serious sexual assaults where no link has been established with the national DNA databank and all other persons of interest have been eliminated.000th individual profile added to databank Page 9 www.cri. 2006 y-str introduced In Y-STR analysis.nz . minimising handling errors. It is only used in a limited number of appropriate cases. It can be used to obtain profiles from items that have only been touched. was enough to give a DNA result that could be linked to an offender. Following the Boxing Day Tsunami. Christchurch and Wellington. After a period of extensive validation and upgrading of ESR’s forensic laboratories in Auckland. the technology was implemented into forensic casework. 2002 nZ’s purpose built DnA laboratory opens In May 2002 ESR opened a purpose built DNA testing facility in Auckland. Since the outcome of such a search requires careful consideration and much investigative follow-up by the Police. FaSTR DNA. ESR Principal Scientist. Dr John Buckleton. 2007 increased discrimination ESR increased the number of loci tested to 15. successfully led to the apprehension of a suspect in the historic Marie Jamieson homicide. This means that results can be obtained from very small amounts of male DNA.2006 Low copy number technology introduced to nZ casework In the first years of forensic DNA a large bloodstain the size of an old 50 cent coin was thought to be the minimum amount of sample required for successful DNA analysis. NZ is one of only a few countries to have purpose built forensic DNA laboratory facilities designed to minimise contamination. allowed for the development of robotic methods for the extraction of case samples. developed and implemented Low Copy Number DNA profiling in the late 1990s and early 2000s. a software programme. 2008 familial testing assists with murder case Familial DNA testing. and on samples where standard DNA testing is unsuccessful. allowing even more discrimination between profiles and assisting in cases where discrimination between closely related family members is required. designed and built by ESR for the automated interpretation of DNA profiles was also introduced. The Forensic Science Service. To date familial searching has been undertaken in fewer than 20 cases. such as a nose-print against a glass. worked with Dr Gill and others at the UK Forensic Science Service to establish the technique and develop interpretation guidelines. Y-STR DNA profiling system selectively targets male DNA even in the presence of large amounts of female DNA (e. familial searching is only recommended in a small number of selected cases. traces of male DNA on a vaginal swab which will have lots of female DNA present on it). 2004 exporting databank expertise Forensic DNA systems developed by ESR are introduced in Thailand.g. Page 8 The LCN technique copies a DNA sample through 34 cycles compared with 28 under standard DNA methods.
The databank system is on a separate dedicated secure system that is physically isolated and contains a number of security features. with scientists often in the laboratory around the clock. and more than 30% linked to another crime.cri. to only those working with the forensic DNA facility. (vaginal fluids. The only genetic information that can be obtained from this profile is gender.LooKinG forWArD ESR will introduce the definitive identification of human body fluids and tissues by mRNA profiling.esr. Once a DNA profile has been taken the sample is destroyed and only the profile is retained. The Act is designed with a strong focus on the rights of the individual. spermatozoa will be able to be selected and processed independently of other cells and body fluids in case samples. Page 10 Page 11 www. ESR and the New Zealand Police comply with all requirements of the CI(BS) Act in order to maintain the integrity of the DNA Databank as a forensic investigative tool. The overall success rate in DNA matching in NZ is world-leading.nz . External parties. 63% of all unsolved cases loaded to the crime sample databases are linked to individuals. It places rigorous requirements on the police as investigators and collectors of samples. physically and by system security features. It allows for the identification of body fluids. cannot access any information on the database. Access by ESR staff is extremely limited. This combination of microscope and dissection apparatus will allow ESR scientists to identify and select cells individually for further profiling. Also coming is the Laser Microdissector. The profile is a string of numbers that are stored on the profile database. their structure and functions) • ageing body fluid stains at crime scenes the neW ZeALAnD nAtionAL DnA DAtAbAnK The New Zealand National DNA Databank has two databases: • National DNA Database (profiles of individuals) • Crime Sample Database (profiles from unsolved crimes) Now most individual profiles loaded to the databank come from buccal scrapes (taken from inside the mouth). including the New Zealand Police. Thus. and also on ESR as custodians of the databank. menstrual blood and saliva) at the same time as determination of the DNA profile. ESR has strict protocols in regard to management of the National DNA Databank and takes its custodial role 1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 22 B: 22•2300434405 / EPOSOb 22 Y: 22•2300434405 / 2100 2400 2700 3000 3300 3600 22 G: 22•2 very seriously. Current areas of research and development in the DNA/RNA area include: • the identification of botanical evidence including DNA profiling of cannabis seizures to establish common origins and the discrimination of psychoactive cannabis from hemp (fibre producing cannabis) • investigations of the behaviour of low level contributions to DNA mixtures • ageing of injuries and bruises using molecular biology and proteomic methods • development of cell identification methods using proteomics (the largescale study of proteins. The Priority Casework team in the DNA laboratory analyses forensic samples for major criminal investigations. Priority cases are commonly run under extremely tight timings. ESR’s DNA laboratory has three teams: • the National DNA Database team • the Crime Sample Database team • the Priority Casework team. The introduction of this technology is a direct consequence of ESR investment in research and development. This innovative technology will be initially applied to selected casework samples.
Historic ‘cold cases’ One of the most important and valuable qualities of DNA profiling is its ability to solve historic cases. A massive screening exercise began to identify a potential match. The clippings resulted in DNA profiles of two males. six-year old Teresa Cormack went missing. following significant developments in DNA technology. Mangels was arrested and charged. Jarrod Mangels provided a voluntary blood sample. In the 1990s the remaining swabs were retested – again there was no result. Page 13 www. The Police began the process of reviewing their suspects.esr. the hairs stored for 15 years were flown to the United States and exposed to mitochondrial DNA extraction (the DNA located in structures within cells that convert the energy from food). teresa cormack case In 1987. The database recorded a profile match to the McKinnel case. Hairs found on her body were examined and stored.cri. Fifteen years after the murder Jules Mikus was found guilty of the abduction. He was sentenced to life. In February 2004. Then in 2001. The victim’s reference profile was determined from the remains of a blood sample. Page 12 Maureen McKinnel case Following the success of the Cormack case. One of the profiles belonged to a legitimate male contact. One was found – Jules Mikus. The resultant DNA profile matched the profile obtained from Mikus’ blood. he pleaded guilty to the crime. Further blood samples confirmed the match. Swabs were sent to Britain for testing but contained insufficient material to provide a profile. the remaining forensic evidence was examined. Eight days later her body was discovered. To confirm the match. This time a profile was extracted from a very small amount of semen saved on a microscope slide. sexual violation and murder of Teresa Cormack. The following year. This has often led to the arrest of a suspect many years after the offence was committed. DNA technology allows for samples from unsolved historic crimes to be analysed. the officer-in-charge of a 16-yearold homicide case in Arrowtown asked that samples be retested using new DNA testing methods. Sixteen years after the murder.nz . apologising in the courtroom. and this was compared with DNA obtained from her nail clippings.
Police obtained DNA samples from two family members. Ten years earlier it wouldn’t have been possible to collect DNA from a single strand of hair. operation backcapture Changes to the New Zealand Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act. . In 2007 the case was re-examined using a new technique of familial testing. However. operation oakley The case started with the discovery of semen on doorknobs and car door handles at an address in Mt Albert over several months. Later. but also to the earlier Page 15 Lois Dear case In July 2006. a series of serious sexual assaults on young females began. www. This operation identified 87 links to crimes. Australian Federal Police sought ESR’s expertise in the case of 29-year-old Sydney woman Janelle Patton. Samples submitted to the Crime Sample database showed that these cases were linked to the same offender. In addition. as the DNA profiles generated from the biological samples did not match any individual profiles held on the DNA database. that of a 90-year-old in April 1996. a suspect was not identified. nor any blood found at the scene. The suspect’s profile matched that of the samples from the crime scene. and he received a sixmonth suspended sentence. but the story doesn’t end there. Recent DNA forensic stories .every contact leaves a trace of the hair as belonging to 23-year-old Whetu Te Hiko. Te Hiko pleaded guilty to the murder and in May 2007 was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 18 years non-parole. there was a hair and a shoeprint. . A profile was generated which matched crime scene profiles from the two rapes and in 2009 Wayne Robert Jarden pleaded guilty to both rapes. ESR scientists analysed the biological samples using new DNA technology. however. Police then trolled through store security tapes for that particular occasion and found video of Te Hiko purchasing those shoes. the first homicide on the island for 150 years. only one in the size that Te Hiko wore. Using a covert surveillance camera. and sentenced to 24 years in jail with a minimum non-parole period of 18 years. Janelle Patton case ESR’s LCN DNA laboratory and expertise in trace DNA analysis were used for a high-profile Norfolk Island homicide case. leading from the classroom to a bathroom.nz . the body of 66-year-old teacher Lois Dear was discovered in her Tokoroa classroom at Strathmore Primary school. who consented to providing a DNA sample. supporting the prosecution case that 28-year-old New Zealand chef Glenn Peter McNeill had killed Miss Patton. murdered on Norfolk Island on Easter Sunday 2002. Albans. This involves looking for people who may be closely related to the offender. allowed for the compulsory collection and storage of DNA profiles from imprisoned offenders. ESR scientists lifted the prints using an electrostatic dustlifting kit. It indicated that the attacker was responsible for another unsolved Christchurch rape. . new technologies led to the identification Page 14 The soles of the shoes were identified as a brand sold at The Warehouse in Tokoroa. (1995). Samples were analysed.Wayne Jarden case In 1988 a woman was brutally attacked and raped in her flat in St.esr. Christchurch. Twelve years later. Samples from the scenes linked the assaults not only to each other. He was found guilty of murder in March 2007. Of these links.cri. The Act permits comparison of these DNA profiles to DNA profiles obtained from crime scene samples stored on the New Zealand Crime Sample Database. Despite this. 65% were ‘cold links’. shoeprints invisible to the naked eye were discovered at the scene of the crime. Police discovered only three pairs had been sold. then moved her body by car to another location. meaning a previously unreported suspect was linked to a crime through DNA. but at the time there was insufficient DNA to be useful. the Police arrested a male suspect. ESR scientists were able to obtain a DNA profile corresponding to the murder victim from a sample extract from the boot of the accused’s car. There were no fingerprints.
in more than three thousand cases per year. Reid was found guilty and sentenced to a minimum non-parole term of 26 years. The result was achieved by positively identifying the source of minute bloodstains distributed throughout the crime scene as belonging to the victims. Urgent DNA analysis from the multiple blood trails came from victims that were accounted for. She managed to escape from a rear door of the moving car. dragging an item from the car with her. The two cases were heard together in a combined trial in November 2008. It is used in cases where the more common methods of radiography (X-rays) and odontology (forensic dentistry) are unsuitable. Some of the less well-known uses include: Attempted child abduction Two attempts were made to abduct young girls off an Auckland street. Page 16 Page 17 www.cri. The offender pleaded guilty and is serving 18 years imprisonment.nz . As a result. Urgent forensic examination of this item yielded a DNA profile. the police were able to make a speedy arrest. By identifying the likely source of a bloodstain at a crime scene. or complete or partial decomposition. A full confession was obtained and the girls were spared the ordeal of facing the offender in court.indecencies in Mt Albert. The profile linked to Liam Reid. Post-mortem examination DNA profiling can be used in postmortem examination where identification of the deceased is difficult due to incineration. the investigation team can determine the location of people during the offence and track how individuals moved through the crime scene.esr. In 2007 when Graham Burton went on a shooting spree in hills near Wellington. but a second was forced into a car. A DNA profile using low copy number technology was generated from the rope used to strangle a Dunedin student in a rape. Police were concerned that there may be more victims than were immediately found. DNA profiling is used as a powerful and accurate forensic tool in many different ways by the New Zealand Police. Other uses for forensic DNA Distribution of blood DNA profiling is also highly useful for resolving the distribution of blood at a crime scene and for investigating crimes where more than one person has been killed or injured. The first girl got away with a ripped jacket. drowning. Prolonged abuse A case using profiling results has proved that physical abuse occurred at a dwelling over a long period of time. A DNA profile was generated from the rope used to strangle a Dunedin student in a rape. Low Copy Number DNA profile links rape and murder ESR scientists were able to generate a DNA profile using low copy number technology. who was also identified through standard DNA testing as the likely perpetrator in the Emma Agnew murder case. which linked to a person not on the suspect list.
©ESR February 2010 Page 18 .
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