Murder victim’s relatives thank DNA pioneer for helping catch her killer

Sir Alec Jeffreys (Photo: Jane Gitschier)

The uncle and aunt of murder victim Lynda Mann last night had the first chance in nearly 30 years to thank forensic scientist Sir Alec Jeffreys for helping catch her killer.

news story by Tim Healy, writing in the Leicester Mercury newspaper, reports that Rob Eaton and his wife Lynda shed tears as they shook DNA pioneer Sir Alec’s hand for his pioneering work on DNA fingerprinting carried out at University of Leicester.

The teenager’s killer, Colin Pitchfork, was the first person convicted of murder based on DNA fingerprinting evidence, and the first to be caught as a result of mass DNA screening.

Mr and Mrs Eaton met Sir Alec at the opening of the University of Leicester’s new Forensic Science Institute, which is named after him.

Mr Eaton, of Wigston, said:

“I had waited 28 years for the opportunity to shake his hand for what he did to put Pitchfork behind bars.

“It was a very emotional meeting and Sir Alec was charming. It is clear he also pointed the police in the right direction.”

Mrs Eaton, the Mayor of Oadby and Wigston, said:

“He told us a lot of information which has put our minds at rest. He is a lovely man.”

Sir Alec, who spoke with the couple for 10 minutes, said he hoped to have a private meeting with the family soon.

Leicestershire baker Pitchfork raped and murdered 15-year-old Lynda, of Narborough, in November, 1983, and raped and murdered Dawn Ashworth, also 15, from Enderby, in July 1986.

Pitchfork was caught after police took blood samples from nearly 5,000 men. He initially evaded capture by persuading a colleague to give a blood sample for him.

He was arrested at his home in Littlethorpe after the colleague was later overheard talking in a pub about what he had done. Pitchfork gave a blood sample and his DNA profile matched that of the killer.

He was jailed in 1988 for life for the murders.

The Home Office ruled in 1994 he should serve 30 years before being considered for release, leaving him eligible for parole in 2018.

The University of Leicester’s new Alec Jeffreys Forensic Science Institute aims to be a leader in the field of forensic science. It will help police forces with some of the requests previously handled by the former Forensic Science Service, which shut in March after the Government said it was not cost-effective.

The uncle and aunt of murder victim Lynda Mann last night had the first chance in nearly 30 years to thank forensic scientist Sir Alec Jeffreys for helping catch her killer.

Rob Eaton and his wife Lynda shed tears as they shook DNA pioneer Sir Alec’s hand for his pioneering work on DNA fingerprinting carried out at University of Leicester.

Sir Alec, who retired in September but is continuing as an Emeritus Professor, said:

“When the university said they were thinking of naming the institute after me I was obviously very honoured.

“This institute has real potential to provide much-needed breadth and depth of expertise, especially in complex casework, as well as a voice for the proper funding of forensic science research in the UK.”

The university will fund the institute, which unites staff from the departments of criminology, chemistry, engineering, cancer studies and molecular science and will involve police agencies.

The new institute is being run by Dr John Bond, a senior lecturer in forensic sciences in the department of chemistry who was awarded an OBE last year for his services to forensic science, and Dr Lisa Smith, a lecturer in the Department of Criminology. Dr Bond said: “We aim to provide a forum whereby problems in policing can be aired and ways found to overcome them.”

Dr Smith added:

“By bringing together the various disciplines at the university we will be able to provide the criminal justice system with a wider range of expert consultancy, research and innovation, teaching and continuing professional development.”

Reproduced from Leicester Mercury website 20/11/12

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