August 11, 2007
City Experts to Analyse Blood
By Mark Cowan CRIME CORRESPONDENT
SCIENTIFIC sleuths in Birmingham have been thrust into the spotlight bcause their expertise could hold the key to solving two shocking crimes.
DNA detectives at the Forensic Science Service labs in the city have been asked to analyse blood samples found in the hotel room where missing Madeleine McCann was last seen alive.
The city's very own Crime Scene Investigators were also on hand to help police in the search for the body of missing Birmingham man Andre Nunes.
Human remains found in the grounds of a house in Alve-church, Worcestershire, are now expected to be examined by experts at the labs to determine their identity and also any evidence of how the person died.
They are the latest cases that show the microscope is now one of the mightiests weapon in the crimefighting arsenal.
The groundbreaking work of the unsung experts has gripped the public for years, never more so than in recent years because of the popularity of TV dramas CSI and Waking the Dead.
But it is the secret labs in Birmingham where the TV flights of fancy become a reality.
DNA was used to convict a murderer for the first time in 1986.
Since then, advances in science have caught thousands of criminals thanks to samples left at the crime secene matching their profiles on the national DNA database. Former Forensic Science Service boss described DNA as the most "significant discovery" in criminal investigation since fingerprints were discovered more than a century ago. Rather than rest on their laurels, experts have continued to develop the field and are now able to get a genetic profile of the offender from the tiniest of evidence found at the crime scene including microscopic blood stains, sweat and even flakes of dandruff almost invisible to the naked eye. Working hand in hand with detectives in the city, the scientists have played a key role in cracking some of the biggest crimes.
In the past two years they have helped catch five men for historic sex offences committed in the region up to 15 years ago. Thanks to the DNA database which holds genetic profiles of more than a million criminals, they can even find an unknown offender through a relative's genetic fingerprint.
And as each advance comes-the Forensic Science Service has a special team to develop new techniques - it makes life than much harder for crooks.
THE murder of Nicola Dixon remained a mystery until November 2003 when Colin Waite was convicted of her brutal murder. The Sutton Coldfield teenager was found New Year's Day 1997 after she had been raped and murdered. For seven years Waite had escaped justice until he was arrested for an unrelated matter. Intimate swabs taken from Miss Dixon and a lone hair showed that the odds of her killer being anyone other than Waite was one billion to one.
JOHN Cook was jailed for life in 2002 after crucial DNA evidence linked him to the murder of Monica Jepson. The 66-year-old, who was living in a nursing home in Edgbaston, had been beaten, striped and throttled by Cook. But he was convicted thanks to the pioneering expertise of forensic scientists who tested a bizarre clue - human faeces.
BRIAN Lunn Field was stopped by police for a routine drink-drive offence in 1999. Using super-sensitive DNA techniques, scientists had managed to find a profile of Roy Tutill's killer from more than 30 years earlier that had previously unobtainable. That matched Field and he was later jailed for life for murder.
(c) 2007 Evening Mail; Birmingham (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.