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Success Stories



Lois Dear case

In July 2006, the body of Lois Dear was discovered in her Tokoroa classroom. There were no fingerprints, nor any blood found at the scene; however, there was a hair and a shoeprint. 

Ten years prior to the crime it wouldn’t have been possible to obtain a DNA profile from a single strand of hair. However, new technologies led to the identification of the hair as belonging to Whetu Te Hiko. 

In addition, shoeprints invisible to the naked eye were discovered at the scene of the crime, leading from the classroom to a bathroom. ESR scientists lifted the prints using an electrostatic dust-lifting kit. 

The soles of the shoes were identified as a brand sold at The Warehouse in Tokoroa. Police discovered only three pairs had been sold, only one in the size that Te Hiko wore. Police trolled through store security tapes for that particular occasion and found video of Te Hiko purchasing those shoes.  

Whetu Te Hiko pled guilty to the murder and in May 2007 was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 18 years’ non-parole.


Janelle Patton case on Norfolk Island

ESR’s LCN DNA laboratory and expertise in trace DNA analysis were utilised for this high-profile Norfolk Island homicide case. 

Australian Federal Police sought ESR’s expertise in the case of Janelle Patton, murdered on the island on Easter Sunday 2002, the first homicide on Norfolk Island for 150 years.  

ESR scientists were able to obtain a DNA profile corresponding to the murder victim from a sample extract from the boot of the accused’s car, supporting the prosecution case that Glenn McNeill had killed Miss Patton, then moved her body by car to another location. 

He was found guilty of murder in March 2007, and sentenced to 24 years in jail with a minimum non-parole period of 18 years.


Operation BackCapture

Changes to the New Zealand Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act, (1995), allowed for the compulsory collection and storage of DNA profiles from imprisoned offenders. The Act permits comparison of these DNA profiles to DNA profiles obtained from crime scene samples stored on the New Zealand Crime Sample Database.

This operation identified 87 links to crimes (13%). Of these links, 65% were 'cold links', meaning a previously unreported suspect has been linked to a crime through DNA.


Maureen McKinnel case

On 31 January 2003, Jarrod Mangels spent a night in the Nelson Police cells. He provided a voluntary blood sample for the National DNA Database.

In July 2002, following the success of the Cormack case, the officer on a 16-year-old homicide case asked that samples be retested using the new DNA testing methods. The victim's reference profile was determined from the remains of a blood sample, and this was compared with DNA obtained from her nail clippings. The clippings resulted in DNA profiles of two males.

The Police began the process of reviewing their suspects. One of the profiles belonged to a legitimate male contact. At the time Mangels gave his voluntary blood sample, the process was well underway. The DNA Profile Databank recorded a link.

Sixteen years after the murder, Mangels was arrested and charged. In February 2004, he pleaded guilty to the crime, apologising in the courtroom. He was sentenced to "life" soon afterwards.


Teresa Cormack case

In 1986, six-year old Teresa Cormack went missing on her way to school. Eight days later her body was discovered on a beach North of Napier.  ESR forensic scientists attended the crime scene and carried out laboratory examinations. Semen was detected on swabs taken at the post-mortem examination and subsequently microscope slides (smears) prepared from those swabs were placed in secure storage at ESR. 

No successful DNA results were obtained until 2001, when DNA technology had developed sufficiently for ESR to re-open the case. This time a DNA profile was obtained from a very small amount of semen on a microscope slide that had been stored since 1986. Napier Police initiated a mass screen, DNA profiling 900 individuals.  Of these one was found to have a DNA profile that corresponded to the DNA profile from the semen on the microscope slide - Jules Mikus.

On 8 October 2002, Jules Mikus was found guilty of the abduction, sexual violation and murder of Teresa Cormack. The case involved extensive testimony by several ESR forensic experts as the crown case rested heavily on the DNA results ESR had obtained.  

Operation Oakley

This case started with the discovery of semen on door knobs and car door handles at an address in Mt Albert over several months. Samples submitted to the Crime Sample database showed that these cases were linked to the same offender.

Using a covert surveillance camera, the Police arrested a male suspect, who consented to providing a DNA sample for inclusion on the National DNA Database. The suspect's profile matched that of the samples from the crime scene, and he received a six-month suspended sentence.

- but the story doesn't end there.

Later, a series of serious sexual assaults on young females began. Samples from the scenes linked the assaults not only to each other, but also to the earlier indecencies in Mt Albert. The offender pleaded guilty and is serving 18 years imprisonment.


Rape conviction

"The conviction of a Rotorua man for a rape he committed 10 years ago proves the value of the DNA databank process" - a crown prosecutor says.

In 2001, Robert Hokoie Clark was sentenced to 8.5 years jail for rape, sexual violation and burglary committed in 1991. He pleaded guilty after DNA evidence revealed a match.

Clarke came to the attention of Police through a "fortuitous set of circumstances" after providing a blood sample for an unrelated allegation. His DNA matched semen left at the crime scene.







Contact Information

Forensic Science

ESR Kenepuru Science Centre
PO Box 50 348
Porirua 5240
New Zealand

Tel: +64 4 914 0633
Fax: +64 4 914 0640

Email: Forensic