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It will resume at 2.15pm. 

Paul Yovich

Paul YovichCredit:sds

Defence lawyer Paul Yovich has begun his cross-examination, and is asking how many forensic staff members worked in the Pathwest lab in the mid 1990s. 

Ms Ashley has replied seven people, six of whom where scientists or lab technicians. 

He has questioned her over how frequently testing and results were peer reviewed within the lab at the time, and she said “when we could”, agreeing that sometimes there were not enough staff on hand.  

Mr Yovich has taken Ms Ashley to a results sheet from the Karrakatta rape victim’s reference sample, sperm swab sample and epithelial swab sample. 

It is not yet clear where this line of questioning will go as court has broken for lunch. 

In summary, Ms Ashley has said the closest the Karrakatta rape swab samples ever came to being tested at the same time as Ciara’s fingernail exhibits was two weeks. 

She said she tested the Karrakatta samples on:

  • February 27 and 28, 1996
  • March 1, 1996
  • March 18, 1996
  • May 19 and 20, 1997
  • September 24 and 25, 1999

She said she tested Ciara’s fingernail samples on: 

  • April 9, 10 and 11, 1997
  • May 5 and 6, 1997
  • October 23 and 25, 2001

Ms Ashley said the closest exhibits from the two separate cases came was two weeks apart, and that Ciara’s fingernails were tested first (bolded above). 

Ms Barbagallo: Was there any point in time when you were working on items to do with the [Karrakatta rape victim] and Ms Glennon?

Ms Ashley: Not at the same time, no.

Ms Barbagallo: In all that time you’ve spoken about, [AJM42 actual nail as opposed to an extract from the nail] was examined once on April 9, 1997? 

Ms Ashley: That’s correct. 

Ms Ashley is now handing some physical exhibits to the court for them to be formally tendered. 

Among the exhibits are the four yellow top containers which once housed the four fingernail clippings which were transported to the UK in 2008 to undergo low copy DNA testing (AJM40, AJM42, AJM46, AJM48).

It was during this testing the state alleges it made a breakthrough in the case when a male DNA profile was discovered underneath a combined sample of AJM40 and AJM42 which allegedly matched that of the then-unknown Karrakatta cemetery rapist. 

The containers are now empty, but the original external labelling remains.

Ms Ashley has also tendered examples of laboratory equipment, including purification tubes, glass slides, swabs, pipettes and scalpel blades.

Ciara Glennon

Ciara Glennon

Ms Ashley has confirmed the remainder of the fingernail samples tested in October 2001 returned results that showed the presence of Ciara’s DNA profile only, except for AJM47, which returned no result. 

This means there was no detection of a male DNA profile on any of the five fingernail samples tested, including the state’s critical exhibit AJM42. 

The state alleges when AJM42 was combined with AJM40 (Ciara’s torn left thumbnail which has not yet been tested to this date) in 2008, Mr Edwards’ DNA was allegedly present. 

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson. Credit:James Brickwood

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson has attended court today and has been seen speaking with Ciara’s father, Denis Glennon, as well as detectives who have sat in on every day of the trial since it started in November 2019.

Macro Taskforce, the police unit established to investigate the Claremont killings in the days after Jane disappeared in 1996, went on to become Australia’s longest running, and most expensive murder investigation. 

Detectives from the taskforce are regularly in court. 

It will resume at 11.40am. 

Ms Ashley has now moved onto Qiagen DNA testing carried out on extracts from the following fingernail exhibits in October, 2001: AJM42, AJM43, AJM44, AJM45, AJM47. 

Testing of AJM42 showed the possibility of a second profile, other than Ciara’s, however it was only an indication shown on one of the alleles and Ms Ashley said “it’s at a level too low to make an interpretation from”. 

She said either way, there was no suggestion there was a male contributor, and could have been a random event. 

Ms Ashley is yet to discuss what was found on the other samples during this testing. 

Forensic scientist Anna-Marie Ashley has returned to the witness stand to give evidence for a third day. 

She is continuing to give evidence about which of Ciara’s fingernail cuttings were tested for DNA in April and May 1997. 

Fingernail extracts tested included: AJM42, AJM43, AJM44, AJM45, AJM47, AJM49. 

The following were evaluated and it was deemed there was DNA present to be ‘typed’: AJM42, AJM43, AJM45. 

All returned only Ciara’s DNA profile. 

The fingernails were tested in the Pathwest lab on the following dates: 

  • 9, 10, 11 April 1997
  • 5, 6, 7 May 1997 

Ms Ashley said there was no testing of the Karrakatta rape victim exhibits on these dates. 

Justice Stephen Hall

Justice Stephen Hall

Before today’s proceedings get underway, there is a brief legal discussion occurring between Justice Stephen Hall, prosector Carmel Barbagallo and defence lawyer Paul Yovich. 

Justice Hall has mentioned the prosecution has made an application for new evidence to be admitted to the trial, however it does not relate to current evidence being given and will be dealt with at a later date. 

It is not yet clear how significant this evidence is. 

Justice Hall has also queried the state’s position in relation to the accused’s DNA which was allegedly found underneath a combined sample of Ciara’s left thumb (AJM40) and left middle finger nails (AJM42). 

Ms Barbagallo has said it is for his Honour to decide whether Mr Edwards’ DNA was allegedly originally on AJM40 only, AJM42 only, or both and together the sample lifted the amount of DNA above the threshold for detection. 

If it was present in AJM42, then DNA testing in 1997 and 2004 did not detect it. 

The testing carried out on the combined sample in 2008 revealed “quite a strong profile” allegedly of Mr Edwards, when low copy number testing was carried out.