Forensic policy changed a week before disputed cases investigated


But Commission lawyer Michael Hodge QC said in June this year that the lab was testing without concentrating the samples.

“So it was not a return to the process as it existed in the lab immediately before the 2018 options paper, when samples at this low level were concentrated before moving on to further testing,” he said. he told the inquest.

“A week ago on August 19 a further decision was made by Queensland Health to concentrate samples prior to further testing and subject to some clarification, which appears to have been a return to process as it existed immediately. [before 2018].”

Hodge told Commissioner Walter Sofronoff, a former Solicitor General for Queensland and Supreme Court Justice, that inquiries were underway to determine who made the late decision and what information it was based on.

Sofronoff told the victims that a different outcome for an individual case is not likely to result from the investigation.

“However, if I find specific systemic errors, I may need to recommend that a certain category or class of issues be reviewed, retested or reconsidered, and this may indirectly affect individual issues,” he said.

Michael Hodge QC.

The investigation will examine the lab’s systems, its relationship with the QPS, which partly funds the lab, and whether the tests meet standards.

Hodge also said the commission was investigating forensic testing in the case of Blackburn, who was killed in 2013 after suffering more than 20 stab wounds at Mackay.

Her former boyfriend, John Peros, was charged with her murder, but was acquitted in 2017, saying he did not kill Blackburn.

The new threshold put in place from 2018 did not allow for more low levels of DNA to be tested unless specifically requested by the police or a medical examiner at the lab.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath declined to comment on last week’s decision to change testing practices regarding sample concentration.

Hearings are scheduled to take place on September 26.


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