DNA on bandanna linked to accused

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013

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A bandanna discovered at a crime scene contained strong DNA evidence linking it to the accused man, the New Plymouth District Court heard yesterday.

Matthew Ross Ratu, 34, was on trial before Judge Allan Roberts and a jury of five women and seven men, facing charges of burglary and money laundering.

It was alleged Ratu stole an Xbox, television and iPod from a house on Antonio St, Stratford, in December 2011.

A blue bandanna was found hanging over the railing of a balcony at the house and was sent by police to be forensically tested.

Environmental Science & Research scientist Kitty Lai, who specialises in the examination of bodily fluids, concluded a sample of saliva found on the bandanna was 700,000 million, million times more likely to have come from Ratu than any other person.

Michael John White told Crown solicitor Cherie Clarke he discovered his house was burgled after returning from the Stratford pools on December 22.

"I noticed the Xbox was gone and then heard the kids down the hall saying stuff had been taken," Mr White said.

He said the blue bandanna was found hanging on the railing outside the house.

In her closing address, of the two-day trial, Crown prosecutor Sarah Law said the bandanna was not at the house before the family went to the pools.

She said Ratu was later seen playing an Xbox, at another address, and then sold an Xbox, which was proven to be the one stolen in the burglary, to an associate claiming it was his.

Miss Law conceded there were a number of unanswered questions including whether Ratu had accomplices or how the bandanna got there.

"We simply know that it is there and the DNA on it is the accused's."

Defence lawyer Julian Hannam said Ratu did not dispute his DNA was on the bandanna but asked the jury to consider if it proved beyond reasonable doubt he had committed the burglary.

He said the DNA only proved Ratu had worn the bandanna at some stage and it could not be proven how long it had been on it. "Someone else put it there, not Mr Ratu," Mr Hannam said.

He asked the jury to be critical of the evidence as it was a serious matter which had serious consequences for Ratu. "You shouldn't jump to any conclusions at all."

Mr Hannam said there were no sightings of Ratu at the house or anyone making off with the stolen items or any forensic evidence inside the house.

As the jury retired to consider its verdict, Judge Roberts instructed them to using only the evidence they had heard in court. "The Crown's case stands and falls on the evidence you have heard in the last day or so," he said.

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