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Action taken after police evidence gaffe
Updated 11:29am Saturday 31st May 2014 in News
ACTION has been taken by North Yorkshire Police following the loss of DNA evidence in an attempted murder trial.
Michael Bennison in to the was jailed for four years in November 2013 on a charge of unlawful wounding, despite being charged with attempted murder, after DNA swabs taken from two knives were misplaced by police forensic teams.
Now a report into the loss of the swabs - released under the Freedom Of Information Act - states the actions taken by North Yorkshire Police to ensure this never happens again, include ensuring items can only remain in Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) transit stores for a maximum of 72 hours before being moved to police storage, all items or exhibits which are given to CSI must be recorded and logged regardless of who they come from or are given to, and all CSI storage bases are now checked weekly by supervisors.
Other rules introduced include ensuring no property is handed to an officer without a signature and storage reference, and area forensic managers must now carry out inspections every three months.
Bennison, of no fixed abode, stabbed his girlfriend Amy Evans several times and punctured her lung, and also pleaded guilty to an assault against a man he had kicked in the head and jumped on.
The last time the swabs could confidently be located was when they were checked into Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) stores on February 4, 2013.
The report said: "The swabs were not collected and appeared to remain in the York CSI freezer for some months.
"As the transit store is within a secure area which should only be accessed by CSI staff, there appear to be only three possible scenarios that could explain the misplacement of the swabs:
- The swabs have been handed to an officer by a CSI who has not recorded this fact.
- The swabs have been placed in POTF and again this has not been recorded.
- The swabs have been collected accidentally by the Forensic Courier and taken to another location."
The report also states the actions taken by North Yorkshire Police to ensure this never happens again, including ensuring items can only remain in
Speaking at the time, Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason said the swabs "were most likely destroyed prematurely as a result of human error”, but he believed that if DNA evidence had been found on the swabs it would only have proved that police had probably found the weapon and nothing more.
The report was carried out towards the end of last year, and stated a decision was made to have the knives tested for DNA, fibres and fingerprints at North Yorkshire Police's bio lab on December 21, 2012, and moved from York to police HQ at Newby Wiske on January 2, before being examined on January 10, 2013.