A top American forensic expert has disputed the DNA evidence against Omagh bomb accused Sean Gerard Hoey.
Measurements based on extremely low quantities of DNA forms the main plank of the prosecution case against the 37-year-old south Armagh electrician from South Armagh. Hoey denies a number of charges, including involement in the bombing which killed 29 people in Omagh town in August 1998.
Professor Dr Dan Krane said that beside Britain, Holland and New Zealand no other country in the world accepts ‘Low Copy Number’ (LCN) DNA in evidence.
He also revealed that in the US, LCN DNA results are not allowed to be included in the countries National DNA Data Base, and the tests are used only as an “investigative tool” but not in court.
Dr Krane said it was difficult to validate LCN testing given the amounts of DNA possibly available for testing.
He also claimed that there was no consistency in the test results of Dr Whitaker’s laboratory and challenged the assertion that labs do not carry out LCN testing because of lack of funding.
Dr Krane also challenged the assertion that a standard DNA test had been made impossible due to the degradation of the DNA.
Earlier, the court heard DNA used to link Mr Hoey to another explosive device may have been transferred via a contaminated examination table;
Dr Krane said the incriminating material could have been spread to bomb components during processing at a laboratory.
“If the item of Mr Hoey’s was on a table top, for instance, removed and subsequently these seized items came on to the table top, it would not necessarily require an air transfer but it could result in a transfer,” Mr Krane told the court. He was being questioned about the likelihood of the defendant’s material accidentally landing on the bomb components.
A second forensic expert has also questioned DNA evidence used against him.
Professor Allan Jamieson said the DNA technique used by prosecution experts was flawed and the results were open to wide interpretation.
Prof Jamieson said potential for cross-contamination of samples was surprisingly high.
“The scentific evidence on this is very small indeed but we were very surprised how easy there is transfer,” he said.
The case continues.