herald

Monday 26 September 2016

Success of DNA database hailed as tests due on missing boy's schoolbag

Missing Philip’s schoolbag. Photo: Damien Eagers
Missing Philip’s schoolbag. Photo: Damien Eagers

The country's new DNA database system has linked over 130 people to specific crimes, including sex offences, since it was set up seven months ago.

The revelation will give fresh hope that the 30-year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of Dublin teenager Philip Cairns can finally be solved.

Tests are expected to determine whether or not DNA taken from the 13-year-old's schoolbag matches that of the late convicted paedophile Eamon Cooke, who has emerged as a suspect in recent days.

Officials told the Herald that over 2,500 samples from individuals and over 2,000 crime scene samples have been uploaded onto the database since it became operational last November.

Forensic Science Ireland has recorded over 130 matches where an individual has been linked to a specific crime.

As a result, 215 previously unsolved cases are now deemed to have been solved.

The offences range from burglary and theft through to more serious offences against the person, such as sexual assault and false imprisonment, said a spokesperson for the Department of Justice.

Trials

The matches found by forensic scientists are admissible as evidence in criminal trials and are expected to become a feature of criminal cases as prosecutions aided by the database progress.

Scientists have also found 25 "clusters", where an individual has been linked to several crimes.

These include one person who has been linked to 13 burglaries and another who has been linked to seven burglaries.

The findings reinforce the view of gardai that three-quarters of all burglaries are being committed by 25pc of burglars.

"Crime stain samples are continuing to be matched on a daily basis," said the spokesperson.

"This data is providing intelligence which confirms the gardai are looking for the same criminal for these cases."

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