SOLVED WITH SCIENCE
Inside how CSI Ireland cracked 24k cases last year, including murders and drug hauls
- 16:37, 7 Jul 2022
- Updated: 16:38, 7 Jul 2022
MURDERS, shootings and drug hauls are just some of the almost 24,000 investigations Forensic Science Ireland were involved in last year.
Cannabis was the main drug analysed, resulting in 40 per cent of their drug work, with powders resulting for 24 per cent.
However cocaine was the most commonly seized drug by Revenue or Gardai that they had to test.
FSI helped with 7,043 DNA cases, which includes cases of sexual assault.
As well as here in Ireland, they are connected to 11 other countries, where DNA data is exchanged, including Germany, the UK and the Netherlands, which helps catch criminals, as well as identify missing people.
Last year, they assisted on 102 missing person or body identifications compared to just 80 in 2020.
They have had 900 matches since they started exchanging this information in 2019.
The company has nearly completed a new purpose-built building at Backweston Campus Facility, which will give them the chance to expand their services to the State.
And here Nicola Bardon looks at some of the cases they helped solve over the past year.
HIT AND RUN MURDER OF THIAGO OSORIO FERREIRA CORTES
On August 31 2020, Deliveroo worker Thaigo was cycling along Northwall Quay in Dublin when he was hit by a car.
He died from his injuries and the car fled the scene.
Gardai later found a Ford Focus with damage to the windscreen, roof and bodywork.
FSI were given the task to determine if this was the car, and also examined Thiago’s clothes for paint and glass.
Glass fragments matching the outer pane of the windscreen of the Ford Focus were recovered on the clothing, as was blue effect paint matching the paint from the passenger wing.
On the car, fibres matching his jacket and red t-shirt were found in the broken windscreen.
DNA was taken from the steering wheel and handbrake to determine who had been driving the car, and a packet of cigarettes found it had the same DNA profile as the driver.
When a teenage suspect was found, his clothes he had been wearing at the time were examined and were found to have the glass fragments from the car, and his DNA matched that recovered from the vehicle.
As he was 16 at the time, he cannot be identified, but at trial, he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and was sentenced to two years detention.
SHOOTING OF CLIFFORD POWER
Shortly after 2pm on December 23, 2019, Clifford Power was shot a number of times at close range by a person wearing a Hugo Boss-branded tracksuit top.
Two bullet casings were recovered from the scene.
CCTV footage showed a man wearing Hugo Boss branded clothing entering the Eight-to-Eight shop where, using a €50 note, he bought a bottle of Innocent Orange Juice, a Muller Corner yoghurt and a packet of cigarettes.
Following the shooting, a witness who was out walking his dog that afternoon, said he observed rubbish thrown over a fence and a navy Hugo Boss tracksuit was recovered in a plastic bag.
During a search of an apartment that same day, an orange juice bottle and yoghurt pot matching those bought earlier in the Eight-to-Eight were confiscated.
Matching DNA profiles were obtained from the spoon in the yoghurt pot and collar and cuffs of the discarded jumper, while firearm residue was found on the jumper that matched the bullet casings.
In addition, blood from the €50 note in the shop and a fingerprint from the orange bottle were all identified as coming from the same source.
These all matched Gavin Ryan’s and he was found guilty to the shooting of Clifford Power and sentenced to 13 ½ years behind bars, according to the FSI’s report.
DOUBLE MURDERS OF JOHN FORRESTER AND JONATHAN DUKE
IN November 2011, father-of-four Forrester was killed following a row with Ciprian Grozavu and his former girlfriend, Catherine O’Connor.
His body was recovered from the River Bandon strangled, battered and bound, with a cardigan belt around his feet.
Just 24 hours later, Duke, a neighbour in the same Cork flat complex, was visiting the two when he realised they had been involved in the murder.
He was then killed himself and dumped into the river.
In what would be the first trial, both were found guilty of murder.However, the Court of Appeal acquitted Grozavu of the murder of Duke.
For the retrial last year, FSI worked with the DNA evidence, including identifying bloodied marks made by the right bare foot of Grozavu, with the blood belonging to Duke.
They were found inside the hall and the apartment where the killings took place.
While he was found not guilty of murder, Grozavu was given eight years for disposing of the body and a concurrent sentence of six years for helping O’Connor remove the body from the scene.
It has been well established that drug traffickers conceal their products to get them into the country.
FSI said there are standard ways of this being done, one of which is ‘body packing,’ when the person swallows the drugs.
They added: “We have also previously seen concealments within common household items, tools, toiletries and even embedded into clothing.”
In October 2021, 2.6 kilograms of methamphetamine powder was detected which had been found embedded within ten plastic sheeting panels.
But one of the most sophisticated was found in July, when a shipment of two containers of 1000 bags of coal was checked.
Within these bags the cocaine was not visible to the naked eye, as it was chemically made to look like charcoal.
This masked cocaine cannot be detected using the standard field tests employed by customs officials but an X-Ray scanner found the presence of cocaine and FSI determined it was worth 35 million euros.
FALSE IMPRISONMENT AND ASSAULT OF KEVIN LUNNEY
Kevin Lunney was abducted from his home in Co. Fermanagh. He was falsely imprisoned, assaulted and then released in Drumbrade Co. Cavan in September 2019.
A Scientist attended a scene to conduct a forensic examination. Following an examination of a horse box at the scene, blood matching Kevin Lunney was found.
A Renault Kangoo van found at a different location, was also examined and blood was found in the interior of the van which matched Mr. Lunney.
These significant findings allowed the investigators to link the van and horse box to the assault of Kevin Lunney.
Items were also seized from a number of properties in Cavan and Dublin 3 for examination and DNA profiling.
In June 2021, Darren Redmond, Alan O’Brien, Alan Harte and Luke O’Reilly went on trial at the Special Criminal Court in relation to this case.
Darren Redmond, Alan O’Brien and Alan Harte were found guilty of falsely imprisoning and intentionally causing serious harm to Mr. Lunney at Drumbrade, Co. Cavan.
Luke O’Reilly was found not guilty in connection with the kidnap and assault of Kevin Lunney.