Dismay as Diplock judge endorses computer DNA test
Dismay as Diplock judge endorses computer DNA test

There was disappointment but little surprise for justice campaigners this week when a judge declared in Antrim Crown Court that controversial DNA evidence, never before allowed in a British of Irish court, was “reliable and acceptable”.

Justice Anthony Hart told Antrim Crown Court of his finding to allow the evidence in the high-profile trial of Colin Duffy and Brian Shivers. The two men are facing charges in connection with a ‘Real IRA’ attack on Massereene British Army base in March 2009.

Hart’s ruling, made under special legislation and in the absence of a jury, has created a precedent in British law. It has also heightened fears of a miscarriage of justice in the case.

After failing to find a match with traditional DNA techniques, the PSNI turned to US ‘cybergeneticist’ Mark Perlin. His TrueAllele technique uses a computer program to find matches based on much smaller samples than even the controversial low copy number (LCN) method, which has already resulted in a number of mistrials and acquittals in the British court system.

The National Institute for Science and Technology in the US is still assessing Perlin’s methods. But recruited by the prosecution, the scientist spoke strongly in favour of it at Antrim Crown Court during the trial, rejecting the doubts expressed by the defence.

Patrick O’Connor QC, who represents Mr Shivers, told the court that Dr Perlin was “partisan and lacks all impartiality in relation to the merits and the limits of his system and that is a violation of his duty.

“He has demonstrated disdain and contempt for even the most eminent of those who do not follow his methods and that is why we suggest he is a man on a mission who has lost his objectivity.”

Mr O’Connor added: “This is quite remarkable really, that the court should be invited to take a leap in the dark when the one authoritative body in the jurisdiction from which this technology has emanated is currently engaged in an assessment process.”

Giving his ruling on the evidence yesterday [Thursday], Judge Hart said that he would allow the evidence to stand.

“I’m satisfied that the stage has now been reached in the case of this system where it can be regarded as being reliable and acceptable,” he said. “And I’m satisfied that Dr Perlin has given evidence in a credible and reliable fashion.

“In light of this conclusion, I see no basis in which to properly exercise my discretion to exclude this evidence and I therefore admit it in evidence.”

Urgent Appeal

Despite increasing support for Irish freedom and unity, we need your help to overcome British and unionist intransigence. We can end the denial of our rights in relation to Brexit, the Irish language, a border poll and legacy issues, with your support.

Please support IRN now to help us continue reporting and campaigning for our national rights. Even one pound a month can make a big difference for us.

Your contribution can be made with a credit or debit card by clicking below. A continuing monthly donation of £2 or more will give you full access to this site. Thank you. Go raibh míle maith agat.

© 2011 Irish Republican News