Interim DNA report puts prosecutions in doubt

Findings from the interim report of the DNA inquiry being conducted by Walter Sofronoff KC have the potential to impact a vast number of prosecutions.

The interim report, released by Health Minister Yvette D’Ath this afternoon, has found that statements made by forensic witnesses that DNA was not detected or was insufficient for further processing were not always correct, as DNA was obtainable in some samples if further testing had been conducted.

Queensland Police Service (QPS) and QHealth have formed taskforces to identify and review all cases in which those statements were made by forensic witnesses. This is likely to include the retesting of samples, and the Justice Department has noted that there could be retrials in limited circumstances.

Wrongful convictions could be addressed under existing processes, but all cases are to be reviewed on their merits to identify any miscarriages of justice.

QHealth is working to identify the affected cases as quickly as possible and QPS is looking at how those forensic statements may have affected prosecutions via Taskforce Helix.

Queensland Law Society President Kara Thomson acknowledged the significance of the findings and the potential implications for complainants, victims, and any individuals who have had their criminal proceedings discontinued or finalised (whether by way of conviction or acquittal).


“These findings will potentially have wide-ranging effects on the administration of criminal proceedings in Queensland,” she said. “Immediate action should be taken to remedy any miscarriages of justice identified as a result of the Inquiry’s findings.

“However, it is also vital that parties in affected proceedings, both pending and finalised, have access to adequate legal representation to ensure they can properly address these novel and complex issues.”

Read the interim report.

Eminent scientist to implement DNA inquiry findings

Statement by Queensland Law Society

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search by keyword