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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK
How science caught up with killer
Police and DNA generic
Anthony Ruark thought he had got away with murder but advances in forensic science allowed the law to finally catch up with him and on Friday he was jailed for life. BBC News Online's Chris Summers investigates.

On the morning of Sunday 13 February 1983 the semi-naked body of Jacqueline Poole was found by a relative in the living room of her home in Ruislip, north west London.

She had been strangled and sexually assaulted some time in the previous 48 hours. She was left with her jeans and knickers pulled down below her thighs.

Mrs Poole, a 25-year-old nightclub waitress, was estranged from her husband Malcolm, who was in prison at the time of the murder.

Jacqueline Poole
Jacqueline Poole was strangled
Police ascertained that the victim had been sexually assaulted and strangled with the cord from a bathroom light.

Around 3,000 worth of gold jewellery was missing. It was never found.

Several people were questioned during the inquiry, which was led by Detective Superintendent Tony Lundy.

One man, Anthony Ruark, emerged as a prime suspect but he denied going to the house or having sex with Mrs Poole and although his alibi had gaps in it, there was not enough evidence to charge him.

'Murder files are never closed'

William Boyce QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "Suspicion fell on Ruark at the time, but investigations did not reveal enough evidence for him to be charged, so it was left in abeyance. But murder files are never closed."

DNA technology did not exist at the time and although the killer had left his semen on the victim there was no way of linking him to the crime.


Suspicion fell on Ruark at the time but...it was left in abeyance. But murder files are never closed

William Boyce, QC, prosecuting
In the summer of 1984 the inquiry was quietly closed down, although the file remained open.

Fourteen years later the Poole family, who still live in Ruislip, badgered Detective Chief Inspector Norman McKinlay into reopening the case.

He sought out the original forensic items - clothes, carpet fibres and other material from the murder scene - and sent them off for examination.

DNA from Det Supt Lundy's prime suspect in 1983 was also sent off to the lab.

There were miniscule amounts of semen on Mrs Poole's clothes and, although insufficient for normal DNA matching, it was put forward for a new procedure called Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA typing.

'We've got a match'

Twelve months later DCI McKinlay received a call from the lab. They had a match.

The semen did indeed belong to Ruark, and he was subsequently charged with the murder.

Ruark admitted he had known Mrs Poole but said no more - until a few weeks before his trial, when he suddenly admitted having sex with her on the night of her death.

He claimed he had left her alive and well.

DCI McKinlay greeted Ruark's new statement with a wry smile. Faced with the DNA evidence, a desperate Ruark had changed his story but the experienced detective was confident the jury would see through it.

Forensic scientist Nicholas Boyle told the trial: "LCN testing has been designed to deal with very, very small amounts of body fluid. You are very much more likely to pick up low levels of background semen using this technique."

Mr Boyle said the chances of a person having the same DNA match as Ruark - and the killer's - were one in 1,000,000,000.

But Ruark's counsel, Nicholas Price QC, claimed Mrs Poole had left her alive and she had been murdered by someone else, possibly one of her other lovers.

Salt in the wound

This was salt in the wound for the Poole family, who had to hear their loved one's reputation besmirched.

Ruark, who was 23 at the time of the murder, had moved from Ruislip to Cirencester, Gloucestershire in the years after the murder.

He became involved in car crime and came to the attention of the National Crime Squad.

He served time in prison and it was as a result of these convictions that police had a DNA sample.

Mrs Poole's husband Malcolm later remarried and moved away from London.

But he is said to be delighted that her murder has been solved, as is her brother Dennis.

Det Supt Lundy, who retired with the case the only unsolved one on his record, said: "This case is always one that bugged me. It was a thorn in my side really.

"Thank goodness for the advances in scientific DNA.

"Ruark was always the main suspect and although after some 15 months we closed down the enquiry, he was noted as the person most likely to have murdered her."

He said: "The most infuriating thing was not being able to give the family the satisfaction of a conviction.

"Imagine what it was like for this murdered young woman's family who had to live for 18 years not knowing who killed their daughter or sister."

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