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DNA provides quantum leap in forensic science

OVER a 50-day trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, a jury of eight women and seven men were forced to navigate two different worlds of policing.

When Elaine Doyle's body was found a blanket was thrown over it. It was a mistake then but would be unthinkable now, with DNA evidence one of the most effective tools available to crime fighters.

Retired chief superintendent George Nedley, who gave evidence at the trial, said the Doyle murder investigation would have been carried out differently today because there had been "a quantum leap" in forensic science.

"We know so much more now than we did then," he told the killer's QC, Donald Findlay. It was an understatement.

Unheard of in 1986, there are few major trials, particularly in crimes involving violence, in which DNA evidence, or a lack of it, is not a central theme.

It was 1988 when the first criminal was convicted with the help of DNA. By last December, 308,950 profiles were held on the Scottish DNA database. From October to December, 131 of the 8,567 new profiles police obtained after an arrest or detention were matched to an unsolved crime scene.

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