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DNA blunder meant 19 year wait in solving indecent assault on Penzance child

By Jo_Wood  |  Posted: October 23, 2012


Devon and Cornwall police missed chances to solve rape cases even though they had the DNA of suspected rapists on file because they failed to 'upgrade' those samples to a national database.

That is the conclusion published today of an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the processing by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary DNA samples in rape cases.

After the upgrade took place, a complete review was conducted by Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in conjunction with the Forensic Science Service (FSS), into undetected historic serious sexual offences with retained forensic material.

This resulted in the upgrading of forensic material linked to three separate serious sexual offence cases - two of which were in Cornwall.

Positive matches were obtained from the National DNA Database (NDNAD) on all three cases which resulted in investigations being commenced and led by Major Incident Teams based in Devon and Cornwall Constabulary.

The force immediately notified the IPCC about the additional cases and they were formally referred.

One case related to an indecent assault on an 11-year-old female in Penzance in 1993.

It wasn't until 2011 that Devon and Cornwall Constabulary identified an oversight by the FSS in relation to processing the samples, and sought to upgrade them.

The forensic evidence was retrieved and upgraded onto the NDNAD. A match was reported and William Pope was arrested in connection with the attack.

He made a confession to the offence during the police interview and was found guilty at Truro Crown Court on 3 February 2012. He received a custodial sentence of six years.

Another case related to the rape of a 15-year-old girl in St Mawes in 1989. However, this case did not proceed further.

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