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Claremont killer trial LIVE: Former Macro Taskforce lead detective takes stand

Detective Stanbury is now being asked about the results of the low copy DNA testing carried out on Ciara’s fingernails, combined AJM40/42 and combined AJM56/48, which came through on December 17, 2008. 

He recalled the right-hand sample returned only Ciara’s DNA profile. 

The left-hand sample, AJM40/42, returned a profile “consistent with coming from two people – male and female”.

The male profile was run through the UK DNA database, and returned no match. 

On January 12, 2009 – Pathwest received a spreadsheet from the FSS lab with the DNA ‘allelic combination’ of the male profile, to run through its WA database. 

The DNA profile as has been shown on the court screen. 

On January 16, 2009 the male allelic combination was searched on the DNA database and matched an unsolved sex assault – the 1995 Karrakatta cemetery rape. 

From there, Detective Stanbury said the investigation into the murders took a different path.

“Now we have this match to the sex assault … we had a description of the person responsible, we had a vehicle that was possibly involved, we had a method or style of assault or attack to look for and we had the highly discriminating DNA profile,” he said. 

He said of suspects from that point on, “we didn’t have to rely on alibis … if their DNA didn’t match, they were eliminated from the investigation”. 

Former suspect, Lance Williams, was told in 2009 that he was no longer considered a suspect after years of police surveillance, and providing his DNA and hair samples to police. 

The first witness called today is former Macro Taskforce detective Jim Stanbury, who was the leading investigative officer for the case from 2006 to 2015. 

He was responsible for the day-to-day management of the case which focused on the disappearance of Sarah Spiers and the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon.

He said in 2008, following a DNA breakthrough which allegedly linked Ciara’s murder to an unsolved sexual assault, the case of a teenager who was abducted from Claremont and raped in February 1995, was added to the investigation. 

Mr Edwards pleaded guilty to the rape in 2019. 

Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo is asking Detective Sergeant Stanbury about his involvement in the alleged DNA breakthrough which occurred at the Forensic Science Service lab in the UK.

Detective Stanbury, along with former Pathwest forensic scientist, Laurie Webb, travelled from Perth to London to hand-deliver 15 Macro-related exhibits to the UK lab, to undergo low copy number DNA testing.

The exhibits included Ciara’s fingernail samples, the state’s most crucial piece of evidence in this trial. 

“We saw there had been no testing of [Ciara’s left thumbnail] previously and considered it to be a good item for specialist DNA testing,” he said. 

A transfer document being shown on the court screen shows DNA samples from ‘9x POI’, often the acronym used for person of interest, were included in the items sent for special testing. 

Another document shows police referring to “a number of POIs in relation to both investigations” – referring to Operation Macro and Operation Ambrose, which is the investigation into murdered schoolboy, Gerard Ross in 1997. 

Exhibits relating to Gerard’s murder investigation were sent to the UK lab at the same time as the Claremont exhibits. 

Of the Claremont cases, the police document read: “The three women are believed to have fallen victim to a serial killer and are the subject of a WA homicide investigation known as Operation Macro”.  

PathWest's homicide autopsy theatre in 2019.

PathWest’s homicide autopsy theatre in 2019. Credit:Marta Pascual Juanola

Welcome to WAtoday’s live coverage of day 51 of the Claremont serial killer trial in the Supreme Court of Western Australia. 

Today, it’s expected the state will call its remaining few witnesses relating to its DNA evidence from Pathwest and UK-based lab, the Forensic Science Service. 

Accused man Bradley Edwards has pleaded not guilty to the murders of Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon. 

For a full catalogue of WAtoday’s coverage of the trial, click here

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