Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Somebody Got Murdered

First of all conventional wisdom was that there was an evil paediatrician, sorry, paedophile stalking East Cork. Then the conventional wisdom was that a young man was guilty of a tragic accident and a panic stricken, half-assed cover up. Now?...

'The Irish Times has learned that the semen, which was initially matched to Wayne O'Donoghue, was not introduced by the DPP after the scientist who carried out the tests expressed some doubts after testing a second sample.

The first sample was taken from the palm of Robert's left hand by State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy at postmortem and, along with other samples from Robert's body, was given priority by the gardaí and sent to Britain for analysis.

A team under Dr Jonathan Whitaker at the Forensic Science Service laboratory at Wetherby, Yorkshire, tested the sample using a new DNA-testing technique called low copy number (LCN), which allows matches to be found from very few sample cells.

Dr Whitaker tested the swab taken from Robert's palm and compared it with a DNA sample taken from O'Donoghue when he was arrested by gardaí on January 16th, 2005.

Dr Whitaker concluded the likelihood of the semen sample coming from anyone else but O'Donoghue was one in 70 million and, on foot of his report in the spring, the DPP directed that O'Donoghue be charged with Robert's murder.

However, gardaí had also taken a number of items from O'Donoghue's house, including a mat from the bathroom where he said he had lain Robert, as he tried to revive him after strangling him outside the house on January 4th.

Samples of material taken from this bathroom mat were later sent to Wetherby where Dr Whitaker again carried out DNA LCN testing and concluded it also contained semen which was not identical to the semen from Robert's hand.

This second sample led him to express some doubts about his first analysis and he revised his report, declining to give a statistical likelihood of the first sample belonging to anyone else but O'Donoghue.

Upon receipt of Dr Whitaker's second amended report on the semen found on Robert's hand, the DPP decided it would be unsafe to introduce the sample as evidence as it was not sufficiently certain and could prejudice the State's case.'


Regardless of the reliability of the evidence, conventional wisdom will now be that O'Donoghue's story was not the whole truth and that there was some sexual aspect to the crime. An already sad, tragic case just got a whole lot sadder.
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