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DNA, fingerprints link co-acused to attack scene

Wed 6 Apr 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Ihaia Gillman-Harris DNA and fingerprint evidence has this afternoon connected one of the alleged murders of gay man Ihaia Gillman-Harris to the scene of a brutal attack in an Epsom, Auckland, motel in late December 2014. Three days into a four-week trial by jury, ESR forensic scientist Susan Vintiner said DNA saliva samples taken from a bourbon and cola can found in the motel unit were 100,000,000,000,000,000 times more likely to come from one of the accused, Beauen Wallace-Loretz, than from any other person. A police fingerprint specialist also confirmed that Wallace-Loretz's fingerprints had been found on the same can, on items from the motel unit and from tests done on Gillman Harris's Range Rover. The vehicle was found abandoned in Pakuranga after the attack. A witnesses has given evidence that two youths resembling Wallace-Loretz and co-accused Leonard Natrass-Bergquist parked the car and were acting suspiciously around it, causing him to call the police. Another witness recounted how he was able to identify Wallace-Loretz to police after being shown still from the motel's cctv cameras. Meanwhile, doubts have been raised by the co-accuseds' lawyers regarding whether will it possible for forensic specialists to draw accurate conclusions about what actually happened in the motel room at the time of the attack. An early responding police officer has told the jury he asked for the unit to remain locked after Gillman-Harris was taken to hospital and an ambulance officer said she recommended to motel staff that no-one enter the room as it was likely to be a crime scene. However, police who returned two hours later to conduct an examination discovered several motel staff inside the unit with a vacuum cleaner and buckets cleaning and vacuuming the floor. The defense has suggested that much of the crime scene evidence was contaminated by “at least nine people” including the first police responding to the 111 call, ambulance and motel staff being in the room before it was officially designated a crime scene and protective forensic measures taken. Fiona Matheson of the ESR agreed the situation was “not ideal” and said that the best that could be done to scientifically interpret the room evidence would be to compare the evidence with any suggested scenarios.    

Credit: daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 6th April 2016 - 6:19pm

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