Terror in Rowcroft Close: UPDATE

Forensic experts give evidence as trial of Max Michael Wilson continues at Exeter Crown Court.

Forensic analysis carried out on hairs and DNA found on a balaclava recovered from the scene of an aggravated burglary in Honiton were the focus of debate as the trial of Max Michael Wilson continued.

Expert testimonies on forensic analysis carried out on hairs and DNA found on a balaclava recovered from the scene in Rowcroft Close were put under the microscop.

During the second day of the trial at Exeter Crown Court, the jury heard from forensic scientists Andrew Pennell and Thelma Westernbrin.

Mr Pennell, who carried out DNA testing on the balaclava for the prosecution, told the court low copy number profiling was carried out on the mouth area of the balaclava which were compared with samples taken from the defendant and another man, Rocky Broadway, who was previously married to a woman who purchased a Ford Focus from David Taylor.

He told the court the results of the DNA profile testing showed the presence of DNA from a male.

He said “The incomplete profile matched the corresponding DNA profile of Max Wilson.

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“The DNA detected could not have come from Rocky Broadway.

“It could have come from Wilson.”

Mr Pennell added: “The estimated probability of matching the DNA profile by chance is one in 560 million people.

“I cannot definitely say it came from Max Wilson or any other individual.”

QC Jonathan Barnes, prosecuting, asked whether the balaclava being pulled off by Gary Taylor in a violent struggle could have left saliva on the item.

Mr Pennell said: “It is certainly one possible explanation for saliva being deposited in that area of the balaclava.

“There could be many other possible explanations.”

QC Stephen Mooney, defending, questioned how long the DNA material could have been on the balalcava and was told by Mr Pennell that it was impossible to be certain of how long.

Mr Pennell added: “All 17 components present in the result from the mouth area of the balaclava were also present in the DNA profile of Max Wilson.”

He also told the court that no DNA was found belonging to Gary Taylor.

Forensic expert Thelma Westenbrin, who carried out forensic analysis on hair samples found on the balaclava for the prosecution, told the court that 58 hairs were recovered and nine were subsequently tested.

She said; “It appeared to be a complete DNA profile from one individual and there was no indication of the presence of DNA from more than one person. There was a complete match between the profile of Mr Wilson from those hair roots tested within the complete profile of Max Wilson.”

She said the profile could not have come from Rocky Broadway, but there was a statistical chance it could come from another, unrelated person.

Mr Barnes asked whether the hairs could have been pulled out in the struggle with Gary Taylor, which Mrs Westenbrin said was a possibility.

Mrs Westenbrin later said the hairs did not have the appearance of being forcibly removed from the head – they all appeared to be naturally shed.

She added: “The characteristics I would expect to be within the range I would expect to have originated from one individual.”

The court heard dark brown, blonde and medium blonde hairs were found along with wavy hairs.

Mr Mooney questioned whether it was possible these hairs originated from the same person or were from different people who wore the balaclava at different times.

Mrs Westenbrin replied: “That is entirely within the capabilities of being within one person’s hair.”

She said the possibility of the balaclava being worn by different people could not be eliminated.

She also told the court that a mixed profile was also found which could not have been from Wilson.

Wilson has denied any involvement in the burglary.

The trial continues.

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