Thursday, December 11, 2008

DNA evidence in Australian murder trial left in the lab for years

The John Tonge Centre is up there with the worst of the American DNA labs

A DNA sample that ultimately helped police link one of two men accused in the double murder of a Gold Coast couple sat untouched in Brisbane's John Tonge Centre for two and a half years before the mistake was realised, a court heard today. The mishap was revealed during the first day of a committal hearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court for Allan Richard Carnell, a mechanic from Tumbulgum, and Andrew William O'Grady, a labourer from Murwillumbah. Carnell, 44, and O'Grady, 40, are each charged with two counts of murder over the deaths of Springbrook couple Anne-Maree Kropp and Christopher Leigh Nancarrow.

The couple was found in their Springbrook Road, Springbrook home on February 1, 1999. Friends discovered the pair naked with multiple stab wounds.

Investigators have alleged the couple were murdered on or about January 30 that year after a violent struggle with their alleged assailants. Brisbane Homicide Investigation Unit Detective Sergeant Dave Nicoll told the court yesterday Carnell had consented to a DNA test in October 2003 but it somehow "slipped through the processes" at the John Tong Centre - home of Forensic and Scientific Services - and was never analysed. The mistake was only realised after a review of the murders was launched and a request to test another man's DNA was submitted in April 2006. The DNA evidence allegedly linked Carnell to the scene.

Carnell's solicitor Terry O'Gorman, who cross-examined Det Sgt Nicoll for most of the day, said besides the DNA, there was no evidence to link his client to the couple's home. He said a friend of Carnell's was working with the couple to do up their Holden Gemini as a show car and asked Carnell to do some mechanical work on the vehicle, but that was the only link to his client.

Married father of four, Carnell was charged in October 2007 and O'Grady was charged in February this year. O'Grady is believed to be a member of the northern NSW Nomads Motorcycle Club. They are both free on bail.

Kropp and Nancarrow, who grew up in Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley, previously lived in Murwillumbah before moving to the Gold Coast in late 1998. The couple often returned to Murwillumbah to visit friends and a doorknock of the region in June 2007 uncovered new information, including a description of a man seen in their carport at the time of their murders.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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