Friday, July 14, 2017

Bungled DNA evidence again



<i>It's not proof against crooked cops</i>

The son of a Melbourne mum murdered almost 40 years ago is angry police bungled the investigation by mixing up DNA evidence.

Victoria Police admitted on Thursday DNA taken from bloody pillowcase, and used to rule out priest Anthony Bongiorno as a suspect, came from an unrelated case.

Maria James, 38, was killed in 1980 in her Thornbury bookshop and the priest, who's since died, was a key person of interest.

Her sons Mark and Adam were 13 and 11, respectively, when she died.

The siblings have long suspected the Catholic priest was involved because he had abused Adam as a child. Adam James recently detailed his abuse to an ABC Trace podcast looking into the case. 'I remember he said to me 'Adam, can you come with me and I don't want you to tell your mum or Mark',' he told the ABC.

Bongiorno abused him before Ms James came to collect her son, Adam said.

Mark James says he's angry around the latest turn in the Victoria Police investigation. 'I am actually angry. I feel quite indignant,' he told ABC television on Thursday.

But despite the disappointment, Mark's also relieved. 'When I was originally told that Father Anthony Bongiorno had been eliminated through some form of DNA-type testing, I found it difficult to accept,' he said. 'But now that police have confirmed that Father Bongiorno and others are actually not eliminated, I'm feeling some relief.'

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana the DNA mix up was the result of a 'human error' made three decades ago.

'Basically, this means we need to go back and re-examine all the exhibits from the Maria James investigation.' Persons of interest previously ruled out of the investigation would now be re-examined.

'We've got to go back and ... see whether we can actually identify whether the offender has left any trace evidence behind,'Mr Fontana said. 'We don't have a profile on the suspect at this stage.'

Mark is seeking clarification about when the unrelated DNA was introduced to the investigation. 'I accept it was human error but the clarification I am seeking was, specifically, did this interference occur before Father Bongiorno became a suspect in this case?'

Mr Fontana said the error was discovered this year after a cold case inquiry into Ms James' death began. The James family say they have applied to the Victorian Coroner to re-examine the case as well.

Mr Fontana does not expect the exhumation of bodies, including the remains of Father Bongiorno, will be needed as a new investigation gets underway.

The admittance comes after it was revealed Ms James issued her son Mark a chilling warning just hours before her death. 'If anything happens to me, make sure [your brother] Adam is looked after,' she told him.

The conversation took place at the breakfast table, and by the time Mark, then 13, and his younger brother Adam, then 11, returned home from school, their lives had changed forever, reported ABC's Trace Podcast.

Father Bongiorno picked the boys up from school and broke the news.

It is believed she was killed with a small knife with a green handle, taken from her own kitchen drawer.

When she was killed, she was on the phone to her ex-husband John. She had briefly put down the phone and never returned.  Police arrived to find the phone still off the hook. 

Despite police finding blood at the scene which they believe belongs to the killer, Maria's murderer has never been found.

Officers investigated multiple leads, but all of them went cold. 

Detective Ron Iddles, who is widely regarded as Australia's greatest detective, was unable to solve the case, and though he retired from Victoria Police this year, will continue trying to hunt down the mother's killer. He told Trace the amount of stab wounds Maria received suggested her killer was certainly someone she knew.

'I've investigated over 320 homicides. Those where you have absolute multiple stab wounds like this, I don't think I've ever charged anyone where there is no connection between the killer,' he said.

<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4691182/Melbourne-police-examine-Maria-James-investigation.html">SOURCE</a>

<a href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/australias-lurch-to-the-left-will-lead-it-down-the-same-path-as-greece/news-story/7cb6b5544ef2d06ebfed1c97fb08c3c7">SOURCE</a>

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