Database of DNA solved burglaries

The national DNA database system, which was introduced this time last year to target serial offenders, linked one such ‘career criminal’ to burglaries which occurred on the same night at two schools earlier this year.
Database of DNA solved burglaries

Dr Sylvia Waldron from the Forensic Science Laboratory told a hearing at Galway District Court that a DNA sample taken from blood found at the scene of one of the burglaries matched a DNA profile stored on the database which belonged to Dominick Starczewski, aged 27, of no fixed abode, and with a former address at Firhouse, Dublin 24.

“There’s less than one in a thousandth millionth chance of finding a similar DNA profile from another person —and even that is quite a conservative figure.

“And it’s one in five to six million chances that the DNA could come from a sibling,” Dr Waldron added.

Starczewski claimed he had never been to Galway and denied any involvement in burglaries at St Patrick’s National School, and at the former Adult Education Centre in Galway city, in the early hours of January 22.

While €200 was taken from the petty cash box at the Adult Education Centre, two laptops that contained educational data along with one teacher’s research notes for her Masters, were stolen from two classrooms at St Patrick’s.

Garda Denis Sweeney said he took a swab of specks of blood found on a broken window at St Patrick’s, and sent it to the Forensic Science Laboratory.

Starczewski did not become a suspect until Dr Waldron confirmed that the DNA profile taken from the swab matched that of the accused, whose DNA profile was already stored on the database as he was a repeat offender.

Garda Pat Fahy said he obtained a court order in August, permitting him to take a swab from the suspect’s mouth while he was serving a sentence at the Midlands Prison for other burglaries.

That swab matched the DNA found on the swab sent initially by Garda Sweeney.

Judge Mary Fahy was shown CCTV footage from the former Adult Education Centre at Merchant’s Road, which showed the accused putting on two pairs of gloves before he smashed through the door to gain entry to that premises.

Convicting the accused of both offences, Judge Fahy said she could see him quite plainly on the CCTV while the DNA sample clearly placed him at the scene of the crime at St Patrick’s.

Judge Fahy imposed the maximum sentence of 12 months in prison for the burglary charge in relation to the break-in at St Patrick’s School. She then imposed a consecutive, five-month sentence for the second break-in which she backdated to October 19.

Leave to appeal the sentences was granted.

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