Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science

Post-Conviction DNA Testing: The UK’s First Exoneration Case?

P. Johnson & R. Williams. Science and Justice, 4(2), pp. 77-82. (2004).


The routine incorporation of forensic DNA profiling into the criminal justice systems of the United Kingdom has been widely promoted as a device for improving the quality of investigative and prosecutorial processes. From its first uses in the 1980s, in cases of serious crime, to the now daily collection, analysis and comparison of genetic samples in the National DNA Database, DNA profiling has become a standard instrument of policing and a powerful evidential resource for prosecutors. However, the use of post-conviction DNA testing has, until recently, been uncommon in the United Kingdom. This paper explores the first case, in England, of the contribution of DNA profiling to a successful appeal against conviction by an imprisoned offender. Analysis of the details of this case is used to emphasise the ways in which novel forms of scientific evidence remain subject to traditional and heterogeneous tests of relevance and credibility.

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