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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blood from a leech used to identify robbery suspect in Australia

Police in Australia have used blood taken from an engorged leech found at the site of a robbery and matched it to a suspect seven years after the crime was committed.

In what is believed to be a world first, the leech was found shortly after officers arrived a the rural property in Tasmania, whose elderly resident had been robbed by two men.
The leech was the only piece of evidence found during a full forensic examination of the house, Detective Inspector Mick Johnston said, and officers decided to take a DNA profile from the blood inside it.

"As there was no evidence of any leech bites from the victims or the police present we thought it was a good chance to have come from one of the offenders," he told the Hobart Mercury.
"We took it from the scene because it didn't belong there."
Seven years later, the blood was found to match that of Peter Alec Cannon, who had been arrested and charged with drug offences.
Cannon, 54, pleaded guilty in court to the 2001 aggravated armed robbery.
Crown prosecutor John Ransom said: "the leech was found next to the safe and it had this man's blood in it."
He said that Cannon and another man, who has not been caught, went to the bushland home of Fay Olson, 71, wearing black hoods and carrying sticks.
The men ransacked the house stole $550. The men tied her up and put a belt around her ankles.
Mr Ransom said that senior constable Nathan Slater had located the leech next to the bed and handed it to Detective Inspector Johnston when doing the forensic examination of the scene.
Detective Inspector Johnston said he had never heard of a leech being involved in a crime scene before.
"It is the oddest way of convicting anyone I have ever been involved in".
"I have not been able to find any similar cases anywhere in the world - nothing like this at all."

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