It emerged yesterday that gardaí investigating the attack have requested DNA samples from 84 taxi drivers in Dublin, as they were working in a vehicle similar to that of the suspect in the case on the night in question.
Gardaí believe the car used was a dark-coloured Prius with a licence plate number dating between 2004 and 2009. However, despite images being caught on CCTV the licence plate number was not recorded.
The victim in the case alleges she was out in the Harcourt St area in the city centre on the night of December 11 last year and hailed a taxi to go home. It is claimed that while being driven to Raheny on the northside of Dublin, the taxi driver raped her.
DNA samples were taken in the aftermath of the attack and it was reported that gardaí now believe they have the DNA profile of the assailant.
A Garda statement said: “Gardaí are investigating an alleged assault on a woman that occurred on the 11 December, 2015 between 2.30 and 4.30am. As this is an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties also said it would not be commenting on the story, adding that it appeared the safeguards are being applied appropriately and in line with legislation.
Earlier this month the Irish Examiner reported that the DNA database has linked more than 530 crimes to particular people in its first year of operation. Official figures indicate that the crimes include 359 burglaries, 55 criminal damage cases, and five sexual assaults.
The DNA database, operated by Forensic Science Ireland (FSI), was launched last November after being promised by successive governments for eight years.
In addition to the 532 crimes, the database has also identified 95 DNA samples taken from crime scenes which have been linked to other crimes.
In the Dublin rape case, the samples are from mouth swabs, although anyone contacted is not compelled to provide a sample. Gardaí have instead informed them that any voluntary sample is to rule people out of the investigation.
Once samples taken are found not to be a match, they will be destroyed and won’t be kept on a DNA database.
It is not known how many, if any, of the people contacted have declined to provide a sample.
Widespread screening of DNA samples, requested from people without specific or incriminating evidence to assist in an investigation, is permitted under the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014, enacted in November last year.
Cliona Saidlear, executive director of the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland (RCNI), not referring to the specific rape case, said people should not have “unrealistic expectations” regarding the use of forensics but added that the greater use of DNA could also have a deterrent quality, as it increases the likelihood of perpetrators being exposed.