Belfast Telegraph

DNA on victim's body is most probably from accused, court hears

A forensics expert has told the trial of a woman accused of battering her neighbour to death that the chances of DNA found on the victim's chin coming from someone other than the alleged killer is one in a billion.

The Belfast Crown Court jury also heard that a DNA profile which “could have come” from Karen Walsh was also found on Maire Rankin's breasts and a crucifix.

Forensic biologist Susan Woodroffe said that in relation to the profile found on Mrs Rankin's chin, the probability of someone other than Walsh depositing it there were “less than one in one billion”.

She told prosecuting QC Liam McCollum she could not give a similar statistical analysis for the samples from Mrs Rankin's breasts or the crucifix, because there was not enough DNA |obtained.

However Ms Woodroffe said that of a possible 11 components from Walsh, there were nine on the sample from the left breast, 10 on the right, and also 10 from the crucifix.

The jury has already heard that the naked and battered body of 81-year-old mother-of-eight was found on the bedroom floor of her Dublin Road home in Newry by her brother-in-law on Christmas morning 2008.

She had been beaten about the head, had suffered a total of 15 fractured ribs, and there is also evidence that she had been sexually assaulted.

Pharmacist Walsh (45), who lived next door to her, is accused of the murder.

It is the Crown case that she is linked to the scene by reason of the DNA evidence and also that a circular pattern of bruises to Mrs Rankin's chin was inflicted by the crown of thorns on the crucifix.

Under cross-examination from defence lawyer Peter Irvine, Ms Woodroffe agreed with the |suggestion that in relation to the DNA on Mrs Rankin's chin, direct transfer was the most likely method of how it got there, and agreed that it could been through a kiss.

Earlier yesterday the jury heard evidence from senior forensic scientist William Armstrong who examined the crown of thorns and the pattern of bruising.

He told the court that having measured both, “they matched exactly”, and added that he had not been shown any other item which “could account for the mark on the chin”.

Under cross-examination from Mr Irvine, it was suggested to Mr Armstrong the marks could have been caused by a nebuliser mask Mrs Rankin used to alleviate her chronic asthma, but he told him: “I completely disagree.”

The trial continues.

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