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DNA TESTS ARE AXED; OMAGH: THE FALLOUT Future cases in jeopardy.

Byline: By JON CLEMENTS, Crime Correspondent and CLAIRE O'BOYLE

USE of a controversial forensic test was yesterday suspended following the acquittal of Omagh bomb suspect Sean Hoey.

The Association of Chief Police Officers said forces were already operating an interim suspension of the "low copy number" DNA method.

Forthcoming court cases involving the technique are also being urgently looked at by the CPS in Britain.

The LCN DNA system allows tiny particles to be tested - a millionth the size of a grain of salt - such as a few skin cells or sweat left in a fingerprint.

Forensic teams have used it about 21,000 times to generate profiles from items such as matchsticks, weapons handles and grabbed clothing.

It was used in the Omagh case to allegedly link Mr Hoey to the bomb timers used in the Real IRA attacks.

But the judge said it was not scientific enough to be evidence and Mr Hoey was cleared on Thursday of 58 charges, including 29 murders.

PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde said: "I have asked for an urgent review of all cases that rely on LCN DNA. But it is vital to future cases to bring guilty people to justice."

Acpo spokesman Tony Lake added: "In England and Wales DNA has to be corroborated by other evidence. But the CPS is reviewing pending cases to see whether any may be affected."

Forensic sources were "extremely disappointed" at the decision to suspend testing and accused police of shifting blame for the trial outcome.

Also, Sir Hugh said police may never catch the Omagh bombers.

He insisted his investigating officers had done their level best with the "imperfect product" passed on to them by the RUC.

Sir Hugh added: "People out there know who did this. There is a lot of intelligence but intelligence is not evidence.

"In my judgment the only way we will see a successful prosecution in a criminal court is if people stand up and say, 'This was committed by X and I will tell you how it happened'.

"If they do that they will have my total support and total protection."

Furious families of the bomb victims have launched a campaign for pounds 14million in compensation from the men they blame for the blast.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Mr Hoey indicated they may sue a newspaper for printing certain comments made outside the court after the acquittal on Thursday.

Voice of the Mirror: Page 10

ulster@mirror.co.uk

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APPEAL: Sir Hugh Orde
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 22, 2007
Words:417
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Next Article:Omagh dad Michael Gallagher says only a public inquiry will uncover the truth.
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