Jonathan Whitaker, PFS DNA expert, provides crucial testimony in Claremont Killings trial

In News by Angela Shaw

Dr Jonathan Whitaker, a world leading UK DNA expert, has completed his evidence in the case of Bradley Edwards in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, Perth. Mr Edwards is accused of the murders of three women in the Claremont suburb of Perth in a notorious case which has become known as the Claremont Killings. Dr Whitaker worked as a Principal Forensic Scientist with the Forensic Science Service in the UK and helped developed the Low Copy Number DNA method which was applied to critical samples in this case in 2008. This was the same method used in the trial of Bradley Murdoch in the case of missing backpacker Peter Falconio and the Appeal case of James Hanratty, The Worlds End and Clydach murders as well as the assassination of the Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh.

In 2012 the UK government closed the FSS due to  a programme of competitive tendering between private forensic laboratories; however the legacy of the FSS innovation and expertise lived on. In 2016 a match was observed between the DNA profile found on the fingernail sample of victim Ciara Glennon and the reference DNA profile of Mr Edwards. At trial Mr Edwards denied the murder and claimed his DNA had resulted due to laboratory contamination. Dr Whitaker reduced the likelihood of the contamination theory to “almost negate” and “very low”.