DNA order identifies armed robber from 2019

Posted On Tuesday June 09, 2020
The DNA data bank means we can now search for potential matches from across the country
The DNA data bank means we can now search for potential matches from across the country

In March, an Ottawa judge ordered a Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sample be taken from a man after he was found guilty of robbery.

Special Constable Kevin Fahey from the Ottawa Police Service Court Security Section took the sample and sent it to the RCMP to run through the National DNA Data Bank for matches to other crimes.

The National DNA Data Bank, created in 1998 under the DNA Identification Act and managed by the RCMP, stores DNA profiles of known offenders convicted of designated crimes, including robbery.

“DNA is an important forensic tool for solving crime that’s as big a discovery as fingerprints were more than 100 years ago,” said Sergeant Chris Hrnchiar, a member of the OPS Forensic Identification Unit. “This data bank means we can now search for potential matches from across the country.”

Collecting the DNA sample requires specialized training. “You have to ensure the room the sample is being taken in is sterile, so there is no cross-contamination and you have to know how to collect the blood, so it’s untainted when it goes to the lab,” said S/Cst. Fahey, a 19-year veteran of the Ottawa Police Service, who is certified in the DNA order process. “Once collected, you need to accurately record all of the information in the paperwork and follow the proper chain of custody so it can be used as evidence in the future.”

The DNA collected in the data bank can be compared to biological samples collected from crime scenes, like blood, semen and hair. In this case, investigators had recovered a knife from the scene.

“The technology works both ways,” said Sgt. Hrnchiar, “since it can link a suspect to an incident or just as easily rule them out.”

On March 27, the OPS Forensic Identification Section received notice from the RCMP of a positive profile hit for the DNA sample S/Cst. Fahey sent in. It linked the suspect to an incident in 2019 when a woman was robbed at knifepoint while driving out of a parking garage. Coincidently, it was a case investigated by S/Cst. Fahey’s own brother, a police officer with OPS.

Another hit last month led to charges against a man for a sexual assault that left a woman with serious injuries in 2016.

“The DNA Data Bank has been extremely helpful in solving crime,” said Sgt. Hrnchiar. “and because it’s nation-wide, just because you leave town, doesn’t mean you’ll get away with it.”

Find out more about the National DNA Data Bank.