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The BBC's Jon Silverman
"It seems certain that there is a solid DNA match"
 real 28k

Geoffrey Bindman, Hanratty family lawyer
"The Daily Mail, not for the first time, have produced a non-story"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Hanratty DNA 'matches crime scene'
Michael Hanratty (left), his wife and family friends
Hanratty's family believe evidence was contaminated
The family of James Hanratty say they will carry on fighting to clear the convicted murderer's name, despite reports that forensic tests have proved his guilt.

It has been reported that a DNA sample extracted from Hanratty's exhumed body last month has been matched by forensic experts to two samples from the crime scene.

At the time of the trial exhibits were handled freely because ... people did not know about DNA

Geoffrey Bindman
Family solicitor
But solicitor Geoffrey Bindman said the family believed that the samples could have been contaminated and that proving Hanratty's guilt in this way was a "logical impossibility".

Hanratty, 25, was hanged in 1962 for killing civil servant Michael Gregsten, 36, and raping his lover Valerie Storie, 22, before shooting her and leaving her for dead, in the notorious A6 murder case.

He always protested his innocence.

His body and that of his aunt, Annie Cunningham, were exhumed from Carpenders Park Cemetery in Bushey, Hertfordshire, last month so that police could gather evidence to support his conviction at an appeal hearing.

The Daily Mail has reported that DNA extracted from Hanratty's teeth for examination by experts at the Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham has been matched to samples from the crime scene.

'Other sources'

Mr Bindman said the defence team had not seen the test details, but said they would prove little in any case.

"It is a logical impossibility for these tests to prove that Hanratty was guilty," he said. "The most that they can prove is that Hanratty's DNA was similar or the same to that which was found on clothing at the scene of the crime."

He said the question of how Hanratty's DNA got on to the samples remained open, with one possibility being that he was the murderer.

"Another possibility was that it got there because the clothing came into contact with his DNA from some other sources," he said.

James Hanratty
James Hanratty asked his family to clear his name
"We know that at the time of the trial exhibits were handled freely because of course people did not know about DNA."

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman refused to confirm that the test results were known.

She told BBC News Online: "It would be inappropriate for us to discuss the DNA tests before the appeal court hearing."

Hanratty's nephew, Michael Hanratty, said the family had not been informed of the test results, and added that he believed that the samples had been contaminated.

"We knew that it would come back like this," he said.

Family match

Mr Bindman said that the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which referred the case to the Court of Appeal, had been "well aware" that DNA samples were almost certainly from a member of the Hanratty family.

Previous tests had already established a close match between the crime scene DNA evidence and samples taken from Hanratty's brother and mother.

Samples of their DNA were found to match traces found on Valerie Storie's underwear and a handkerchief wrapped around the murder weapon.

"This new evidence does not really take the matter much further than it was when the Criminal Cases Review Commission decided that the case should be referred to the Court of Appeal," said Mr Bindman.

The Court of Appeal hearing is expected later this year.

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