Northern Ireland

Massereene trial: DNA in car 'most likely Colin Duffy's'

Patrick Azimkar (left) and Mark Quinsey
Image caption Patrick Azimkar (left) and Mark Quinsey were murdered in March 2009

DNA found after the murder of two soldiers was six trillion times more likely to come from Colin Duffy than anyone else, a court has heard.

Mr Duffy and Brian Shivers deny murdering Sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London and Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, at Massereene Army base.

The DNA of both men was allegedly found on items in the getaway car used after the murders in Antrim in March 2009.

On Wednesday, the trial heard from an American DNA expert.

Dr Mark Perlin said the swabs taken from a seatbelt buckle were nearly six trillion times more likely to have come from Mr Duffy than anyone else.

He also said the swab from a mobile phone found in the car was just over six billion times more likely to have come from Mr Shivers than any other person.

The car was found partially burned in Randalstown after the murders.

Dr Perlin developed a computer based statistical system - True Allele - which analyses forensic samples containing the DNA or two or more people.

The expert compared the results of swabs taken from the buckle and the phone along with samples of Mr Duffy and Mr Shivers' DNA.

Belt buckle

As the two defendants watched from the dock, Dr Perlin told judge Mr Justice Anthony Hart that a DNA sample found on the belt buckle was 5.91 trillion times more likely to be Duffy's than someone else's.

"A match between the buckle and Mr Duffy would be 5.9 trillion times more probable than a coincidental match," he said.

He said a sample retrieved from inside the mobile phone was 6.01 billion times more likely to belong to Mr Shivers than another person.

The prosecution says Mr Duffy's DNA was also found on the tip of a latex glove and Mr Shivers' on a matchstick found outside the car.

Defence challenges evidence

However, the defence has said the DNA evidence falls below the threshold of reliability to be admissible in court.

Dr Perlin, whose technique was used in a bid to identify the victims of 9/11, also carried out tests on the matchstick which is the prosecution claims also links Shivers to the scene.

Image caption Colin Duffy (left), 43, from Lurgan, and Brian Shivers, 46, from Magherafelt, deny any role in the March 2009 murders

He is due to reveal his findings on the match to the court on Thursday, but Mr Shivers' defence lawyer Patrick O'Connor voiced concern over the evidence.

The QC said Dr Perlin had earlier this month revised his original calculations in regard to the matchstick after receiving amended data, but that the defence had only received the new results on Wednesday.

Mr O'Connor did not make an official application in regard to the evidence, but said he was concerned about a fair trial because his team had no time to analyse the revised figures.

Earlier, both Mr O'Connor and Barry McDonald QC, representing Mr Duffy, questioned the reliability of Dr Perlin's True Allele statistical approach.

They both indicated they would be challenging whether the judge in the non-jury trial should admit it as evidence

The two soldiers were shot dead while they collected pizzas outside the base. A number of other people were injured.

Mr Duffy, 43, from Lurgan and Magherafelt man Mr Shivers, 46, also deny six charges of attempted murder and one of possession of guns and explosives.

The trial continues.

More on this story