Thursday, March 15, 2012

Contaminated DNA sends teen to jail for a rape he didn't commit

A woman was raped in Manchester, a city Adam Scott, 19, had never even visited, but Mr. Scott was arrested and charged with the rape and thereafter spent three months in jail. Why? Because LGC Forensics in Teddington, South West London, which does scientific testing for Greater Manchester Police,  allowed Mr. Scott's DNA sample (which police had on file from an unrelated matter) to come in contact with a swab collected from the rape scene.  The contaminated DNA made it look for certain that Mr. Scott was the rapist.

Police stopped looking for the real rapist, who has been on the loose since October 2, because they erroneously thought they had their man. 

When Mr. Scott was arrested, police said he was “absolutely adamant that he had never been to Manchester so that gave us some concern.”  But obviously not enough concern to believe him over the results of DNA testing. The lab pinpointed Mr. Scott as the culprit, and that all police needed to arrest and charge him.

“I am angry I was falsely accused. I am angry about the amount of pain it has put me and my family through," said Mr. Scott. "I sincerely hope justice comes for the victim and the true rapist is caught.”

Solicitor Philippa Jeffries has called for a public inquiry: "It’s reasonable to assume [Mr. Scott] could have been convicted" because of this forensic blunder.

Greater Manchester Police is now re-investigating the rape. It is also reviewing some cases in which the firm processed DNA evidence.  LGC Forensics said it had identified the source of contamination and resolved the problem. It would not reveal how the mistake happened.

And now comes word that police in the UK could be required to hand over the DNA of potentially innocent Britons to European countries under a controversial EU treaty.