July 01 2011
R vs E  EWCA Crim 460 No: 201003792/B2
A report provided by one of our biologists, Hannah Goy, has recently been instrumental in quashing the conviction of a man charged with the rape of his daughter.
The family involved in the case lived in a very untidy house where clothes which had been left in a laundry pile for washing by one member of the family were sometimes picked up and used by other members of the family.
It had been reported by the Crown scientist that semen attributable to the father had been found in the crotch of his daughter’s shorts together with DNA that (of the family members) could only have originated from her. The Crown scientist’s evidence formed the mainstay of the prosecution case despite other witness evidence to the contrary.
In reviewing the case file, Mrs Goy noted that only one or two sperm cells had been found on fabric from the shorts. Given the grubby and dirty state of the garment it was her opinion that in no way was it possible to say that the DNA profile matching the father had come from sperm and furthermore the attribution of material to the daughter, suggesting she was the wearer of the shorts, was questionable. Consequently it was not possible to say whether any semen present was likely to have been deposited as a result of drainage post intercourse and the strength of evidence presented by the Crown at trial was significantly overstated.
Mrs Goy’s report was reviewed by another forensic scientist appointed by the respondent who agreed with her conclusions. As this completely undermined the value of the Crown’s scientific evidence at trial the conviction was quashed as the Court of Appeal considered it may very well have made a difference to the verdict which the jury reached.
The judge congratulated the instructing solicitors for their diligence and perseverance in bringing such a difficult case to appeal where others had rejected there being any potential grounds to do so.
The full judgement can be found at: http://www.chrissaltrese.co.uk/RvE-judgment.pdf
Dr Helen Davey
BSc, PhD, MCSFS