Queensland DNA lab inquiry hears staff were under ‘significant pressure’ over testing speed

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The inquiry into Queensland’s state-run forensic science laboratory has heard police DNA collection procedures could have affected the viability of samples in the Shandee Blackburn murder investigation in 2013.

A podcast about the woman’s death prompted the inquest and her case is in the spotlight at hearings in Brisbane this week.

The inquiry examines the 2018 decision by the forensic laboratory and the Queensland Police Service – the testing facility’s biggest client – to classify DNA samples linked to major crime investigations as “DNA insufficient for further processing”, or DIFP, if they fell below a certain threshold. .

Further testing has since successfully found DNA in many samples, raising questions about whether it affected the course of some rape and murder investigations.

A coronial inquest into Ms Blackburn’s death was reopened earlier this year after concerns were raised about alleged errors and failings by the laboratory, several years before the change in procedures.

In 2020, a coroner found Ms Blackburn’s former partner john peros was responsible for her stabbing death, despite his acquittal by a Supreme Court jury in 2017.

Sir. Butts maintained his innocenceand no one has ever been found guilty of Ms Blackburn’s murder.

Inquiry told process for collecting blood samples ‘may not be best practice’

Counsel assisting Laura Reece today told the inquest that at the time of Ms Blackburn’s death police were using a wetting agent containing 70 per cent alcohol to collect blood samples which “may not be best practice”.

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