- 19-year-old arrested in Devon over Manchester attack
- Greater Manchester police begins review of murder and rape convictions obtained using forensic firm
- Victim, currently serving time for affray, demands compensation
- His lawyer demands public inquiry. Scores of other cases could now be reopened
A DNA blunder led to a teenager spending three months behind bars after he was accused of rape in a city he had never even visited.
Adam Scott, from Truro, Cornwall, was charged with attacking a woman in a park in Manchester, after his DNA sample was mixed with that of the attacker’s that had been taken from the victim.
He had provided the swab in connection with an unrelated crime that was also being processed at a laboratory run by LGC Forensics.
The company, based in Teddington, south-west London, is one of three forensic firms in the UK used specifically for DNA crime-scene testing.
It handles tens of thousands of samples for police forces across the country – and this cross-contamination could now see many cases having to be reopened.
Mr Scott’s lawyer has called for a public inquiry.
Greater Manchester Police has already begun an internal review of a small number of murder and rape cases in which DNA evidence assessed by the company’s evidence played a crucial role.
A model of a DNA molecule: A contaminated sample meant the hi-tech forensic tool implicated a teenager in a rape in a city he had never visited
Adam Scott, from Cornwall, was charged with a rape in Manchester despite his strong denials after his DNA test mixed with a sample from the victim
Now Mr Scott is considering legal action.
Despite telling police had never even been to Manchester, he was charged with the sex attack after the lab initially stuck by their results.
He was held on remand and had been due to stand trial next month.
The 19-year-old was arrested in Devon about three weeks after the October 2 rape and brought to Manchester after the results of the compromised DNA test were sent to police.
He insisted that he had never even been to the city, but LGC Forensics insisted there was a definite match.
Mr Scott was charged despite his denials. He had given his sample after being arrested for an unconnected matter of affray.
After being charged with rape he spent nearly three months on remand, before beginning a year-long sentence following conviction for the affray.
Earlier this week, after finding out the evidence was contaminated, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) formally dropped the case at a Manchester Crown Court hearing.
Mr Scott, currently serving his sentence in Exeter, was stunned to find out what had happened.
He said: ‘I am relieved that I have been found not guilty – but then I always was not guilty. I defended the allegation from the moment of my arrest.
‘I am angry that I was falsely accused. I am angry about the amount of pain it has put me and my family through.
No further action: The Crown Prosecution Service formally dropped the case at a Manchester Crown Court hearing earlier this week
The lab initially stuck by their test results but the CPS dropped the case before it was due to be held at Manchester Crown Court later this month
‘I sincerely hope that justice comes for the victim and that the true rapist is caught.
‘I am disgusted that it has taken this long for them to work out what went wrong. I now want to move on with my life and put this horrible experience behind me.’
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood of Greater Manchester Police admitted the teenager ‘was absolutely adamant that he had never been to Manchester so that gave us some concern’.
He added: ‘We went back to the supplier who was absolutely adamant that this was not the case so we charged the man with Crown Prosecution Service support.
‘Last week we were contacted by the supplier who said unfortunately the sample was contaminated.’
The scope of the GMP probe may be extended in coming days or weeks.
LGC has also started its own internal investigation. The company has apologised and said it had ‘taken steps to ensure that it [the mistake] cannot happen again’.
Mr Scott’s mother, Michelle Scott, said the allegation had left her ‘distraught’.
She said: ‘I never for one minute believed he was guilty.
‘I’m really glad the truth has come out – but how they managed to contaminate the evidence is beyond belief.
‘I am very angry that my son has had to live through this experience and suffer the shame of being accused of being a rapist, whilst being locked up in prison.’
Rundlewalker, the Exeter-based law firm representing Mr Scott, said they were ‘utterly astounded’ by the failings that led to his arrest, charge and detention for the rape allegation.
In a statement the firm said: ‘Had his case proceeded to trial and had the jury accepted the DNA evidence, he would have received a significant custodial sentence.
‘We remain fearful for any defendant indicted on DNA or other scientifc evidence that has been processed, is being processed or will be processed through LGC’s laboratory.
‘We call for a public inquiry into the failings reported.’