ContentsForeword02Introduction04Who Are We and What We Do05Case Studies08Service Developmentand Growth13Science Technologyand Innovation27Partnership and Integration33Quality Systems37Fit-For-Purpose Environment41Excellence Through People45Corporate Governance48Statement ofInternal Control49
ForewordBefore reporting on our progressduring 2019 I want to thank allthe staff of FSI for their flexibilityand support during the currentCovid-19 pandemic. As an essentialservice, FSI staff are maintainingall critical forensic services for thecriminal justice system. We havechanged work patterns and workpractices to help safeguard staffwhile offering a sustainable service.Several staff volunteered to supportCovid-19 laboratory testing at oneof the country’s laboratory testingfacilities at the Department ofAgriculture, Food and Marine (DAFM)at Backweston, County Kildare andFSI contributed to this testing in thefirst phase of the national Covid-19test plan. It is very encouraging towitness the commitment of FSI staffto support the national response tothis pandemic while maintaining aprofessional and responsive serviceto our criminal justice system. Manythanks again for your support.2Last year was a very significant year for FSI in manyregards. With the support of the Minister of Justiceand Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., FSI launched itsstrategic plan for the period 2019 – 2022 at a launchevent in April at the Backweston Laboratory Campus.The venue was chosen as this will be the futurelocation of the new FSI laboratory, due for completionin 2022. This strategic plan included 6 broad themesof focus for FSI - the services we develop and deliver;the scientific, technical and innovative capabilitiesof the organisation; partnerships and integrationwithin the criminal justice system; maintaining arobust quality system; improving our physical workenvironment and developing our staff in an inclusive,integrated team. I am very pleased to report that wehave made very significant progress on all fronts overthe course of 2019.During 2019 we formally integrated two services,Fingerprints and Documents & Handwriting from theGarda National Technical Bureau into FSI. SeveralGarda members and staff have seconded to FSIto support these services within FSI and we aredelighted to have them as part of our organisation.We have supplemented these teams with scientistsand additional administrative staff and are workingon building additional capacity in these services. It isa pleasure to work with these new teams in FSI andI look forward to growing these services further overthe next three years through to 2022.FSI significantly increased the number of casesreported on over the year – supporting crimeinvestigations including murders and seriousassaults, sexual assaults, drugs, possession offirearms and explosives. We increased the numberof reported cases by more than 20%, by adding newstaff, commissioning new equipment and improvinga number of processes. Training was a big focus forus in 2019 and it is very encouraging to have newstaff actively contributing to the case load of FSI.This is especially important in the face of significantincreases in demand – case submissions increasedby an average of 23% over the past 2 years. While wehave had a positive year in increasing capacity andreducing backlogs in many areas, a sustained increasein capacity will be required for FSI to achieve thelevel of service performance that our criminal justicesystem needs.
2019 was also a successful year for the National DNADatabase. The reference index of the database grew byclose to 10,000 profiles and close to 1,500 crime stainswere added. Significantly, 43 out of every 100 crimescene samples uploaded onto the database will now belinked to a person - this is a tangible measure of howthe crime solving capability of the database has grownin time. A report on the operation of the DNA Databasein 2019, in compliance with the Criminal Justice(Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act2014, is also included in this annual report publication.FSI also started the exchange of DNA profiles throughthe Prüm Treaty in 2019. This treaty allows for theautomated anonymous comparison of profiles amongparticipating countries and enables fast informationexchange for intelligence purposes. Ireland exchangeddata bilaterally with Austria starting in 2019,identifying matches to suspects with serious offencessuch as sexual assaults in both countries. This providesvaluable intelligence to policing organisations acrossEurope as they cooperate across international borders.FSI made great in-roads during the year towards thedesign and construction of a new fit-for-purposeforensic facility at the Backweston Laboratory Campusin County Kildare. By the end of 2019 the tender andprocurement process was completed by the Officeof Public Works. At the time of writing this report,contracts have been signed and construction ofthe new facility had commenced. Although this willbe disrupted by the current pandemic, the start ofconstruction gives us confidence on what the futureholds for FSI. We very much look forward to thecompletion of the construction project, transitioningservices to Backweston and all that this enables.Minister Charlie Flanagan Launching FSI’s Strategic Plan atBackweston, Co KildareSome Staff and Stakeholders at The Strategic Plan Launch,Backweston, Co KildareFSI was awarded with accreditation to the newest ISO17025 (2017) standard in 2019, which was extendedto include integrated Fingerprints, Documents andHandwriting as well as some enhanced services withinFSI.We have already made substantial progress on thegoals stated in our strategic plan, but it’s clear to usthat there is more to do. We remain committed toworking through the current challenges this pandemicbrings and to provide the critical services our justicesector needs.Chris EnrightDirector General FSIFSI New Building Design (Courtesy of OPW)3
IntroductionForensic Science Ireland is an associated office of the Department of Justiceand Equality. We work together to deliver, to best international standards,comprehensive scientific analysis, independent expert opinion, advice andtraining to support the Irish Criminal Justice system. Originally known as theForensic Science Laboratory, FSI was established in 1975 to provide a scientificservice to the Criminal Justice System by analysing samples submitted fromcrime scenes and providing expert evidence in criminal trials. In June 2014,President Higgins extended our scope when he signed into law the CriminalJustice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014. Under thisact, FSI is named as the custodian of that database and our name was changedfrom Forensic Science Laboratory to Forensic Science Ireland to recognise thisbroader remit.In December 2019, the responsibility for theFingerprints and Documents & Handwriting servicestransferred from the Garda National Technical Bureauto Forensic Science Ireland. This consolidates mostlaboratory-based forensic work under ForensicScience Ireland. FSI currently has 183 staff, includingseconded Garda members, scientists and analyststrained in forensic testing and reporting techniques,supported by administration professionals.FSI is currently based in Garda Headquarters in thePhoenix Park but plans to build a new fit-for-purposebuilding on the scientific campus at Backweston,Celbridge are well developed. Construction workstarted in March 2020 and we expect the constructionphase to be completed by 2022, with full transitionto this new facility completed as soon as possibleafterwards.4FSI is a founding member of the European Networkof Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI), as well as theAssociation of Forensic Service Providers (AFSP).These organisations are focused on developing andsharing best international forensic practices andresearch within its members. Our staff are active onall the relevant ENFSI and AFSP working groups. Thisinternational engagement is important in ensuringthat expert evidence presented is grounded in themost recent scientific research and best internationalpractice.FSI is accredited according to ISO17025 (2017) andholds a Gold Excellence through People certification.
Who Are We and What We DoOur Management TeamDirector GeneralChris EnrightDirector ofPhysical AnalysisDr. Dyan DalyDirector of DNADr. Geraldine O’DonnellDirector of Science &DevelopmentDr Martina McBrideDirector ofCorporate ServicesDr. Tom HanniganDirector ofChemical AnalysisDr. Yvonne KavanaghOur StaffForensic Science Ireland is a knowledge-basedorganisation and the expertise of our staff is itsmost valuable attribute. Since December 2019, 25Garda members as well as a number of Garda staffseconded to FSI to support the Fingerprints andDocuments & Handwriting services. They bring awealth of experience and expertise within their fieldsthat is very much appreciated by FSI. Both of theseservices now have a blend of expert Garda membersand scientific staff recruited by FSI within the teams.FSI currently has 183 staff, including the secondedstaff. We have recruited a significant number of newscientific, analytical, ICT and administrative staffover the last year to meet the demands of current andnew services in Chemical, DNA and Physical Analysis.We are fortunate to be able to attract high calibrescientific, technical and administrative professionalsinto FSI. Forensic science analysis and interpretationare always evolving and consequently FSI placesa significant emphasis on ongoing education anddevelopment. This is vital in ensuring that the JusticeSystem has the benefit of international best practice.5
Our ServicesFSI contributes to both the investigation of crime andthe judiciary process within the Irish Justice System.In broad terms, forensic investigations involve theexamination of items recovered from crime scenesand the use of various techniques to investigatelinks between suspects and victims, and betweensuspects and scenes. This is underpinned by anobjective evaluation of context and scientific facts,frequently leading to the elimination of suspects frominvestigations. There are few major criminal trials thatdo not feature some contribution from FSI.The area of most sustained growth is DNA, which isalso the discipline of greatest recent developments.In the DNA area, DNA profiles are generated fromsubmitted items and compared with DNA profilesobtained from suspects to assist the investigationof crimes ranging from burglaries to sexual assaultsand murder. Blood Pattern Analysis (BPA) and theexamination of damage to clothing is also carriedout. Since the establishment of the National DNADatabase, the DNA department plays a key role inmanaging the Database in accordance with thelegislation as well as quality and security bestpractices. This department reports on matchesbetween individual crime stains and suspects as wellas cluster matches. This offers on-going intelligenceto An Garda Síochána in the investigation of crime.In accordance with the Forensic Evidence and DNADatabase, FSI’s policies and practices relating tothe DNA Database are overseen by an independentDNA Database Oversight Committee. Since 2019,FSI is exchanging DNA profiles with other Europeancountries through the Prüm Treaty. This treaty allowsfor the automated anonymous comparison of profilesamong participating countries and enables fastinformation exchange for intelligence purposes.The analysis of materials thought to contravene theMisuse of Drugs Acts constitute the highest numberof submissions to FSI and are supported by theChemical Analysis department. Case submissionsvary widely in size, drug mix and complexity. Thesecases can involve new psychoactive substances thatpose particular analytical challenges. The drugs teamhave influenced legislation through the identificationand characterisation of drugs in the market place. Inaddition to drugs submissions, debris samples fromsuspicious fires are analysed for accelerants (e.g.petrol), offensive sprays (such as pepper spray) areevaluated and toxicology samples associated withsexual assault cases are analysed and evaluated.6The Physical Analysis area is the most recently formeddepartment in FSI. This department was formed totake advantage of the overlaps between disciplinesmoving from the Garda National Technical Bureau(GNTB) and disciplines that exist today within FSI. Thisdepartment includes the Fingerprints and Documents& Handwriting disciplines that integrated into FSI overthe course of 2019. It also includes a diverse range ofexaminations where trace evidence recovered fromscenes or suspects (e.g. glass, paint, fibres, firearmresidue) is compared to reference samples. Physicalor digital tachographs and marks/impressions arealso examined e.g. footwear or tyre impressions left atcrime scenes or manufacturing marks on plastic bags.Suspect materials are also analysed for explosiveswithin this department.The majority of cases for analysis at FSI are submittedby An Garda Síochána, but material is also receivedfrom Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission(GSOC), Customs & Excise, and Military Police. Casesare accepted by FSI reception/case intake staff whoensure that items are safely and securely storedor passed directly to a scientist depending on thesituation. In either situation, the chain of custody iscarefully recorded.In addition to analysing samples in the laboratory,staff from FSI provide professional advice and trainingon the appropriate samples to be taken from crimescenes and individuals and, in some circumstances,attend crime scenes. We also operate an out-of-hoursservice for situations where investigating Gardaí needaccess to time-critical analysis or when it is necessaryto visit crime scenes, or suspected clandestine druglaboratories.We liaise directly with the Gardai on investigationswhere we identify whether there is probative evidentialvalue rather than where scientific findings would nothelp progress the investigation.Staff provide expert testimony in criminal trials. Thereis the potential for this to occur in all cases, but someareas of work are more likely to result in court casesthan others. Attendance at court can involve robustdefence of scientific findings and/or an outline ofroutine processes related to continuity or laboratoryprocedures.
STRATEGIC PILLARSThis annual report is organised under six main headings, corresponding to thestrategic themes identified in FSI’s strategic plan 2019 – 2022.Service Development and GrowthThis section focuses on how we are improving the capacity of services we aredelivering today and how we are increasing the breadth of services in supportof the justice system in Ireland. This section also includes a report on the DNADatabase and Prüm DNA exchange.Science, Technology and InnovationThis section focuses on how the organisation is progressing our application ofscience and technology, innovating to maximise the impact of forensic scienceand maintaining our contribution to the international forensic community.Partnership and IntegrationThis section focuses on how we are strengthening relationships within thecriminal justice system and beyond, to maximise FSI’s contribution to society.Quality SystemsThis section focuses on how we maintain a robust quality-focused forensicscience service and operate to the very best international practices.Fit-for-purpose EnvironmentThis section outlines progress in transitioning to a new fit-for-purpose facility atthe Backweston scientific campus and how we manage risk in the interveningperiod.Excellence through PeopleThis section focuses on how we build an inclusive and integrated team withinFSI that helps us collectively achieve our mission.7
Case Study 1Following a trial in November 2019, a couple werefound guilty of having carried out an act of femalegenital mutilation (FGM) in 2016 on their then 1 yearold daughter.FSI carried out an examination of the scene and of a toy which the couple alleged had caused the injury. Bloodmatching the child was found on an area of carpet and no blood was found on the toy. The man and woman werejailed for five and a half years and four years and nine months respectively. This conviction was the first of its kindin the Republic of Ireland.Case Study 2Thomas Lynch pled guilty in November 2019 at histrial for attempted poisoning.Having heard of thallium (a poisonous chemical) on a television program, Mr Lynch procured a vial and spreadsome of the contents on a colleague’s car door handle. This activity was observed and the intended victimwas warned, so luckily no harm was caused. The vial was submitted to FSI for analysis and the contents wereconfirmed to be thallium. Thallium is a heavy metal most commonly used in the production of electronic devicesand fibre optics. It was used in crime writer Agatha Christie’s book The Pale Horse (1961) as an unusual poison –subsequently at least two cases of thallium poisoning have been correctly identified and successfully treated as aresult of readers recognising the symptoms from the novel.8
Case Study 3A Galway man was found guilty of sexuallyassaulting a then 16 year old girl following his 21stbirthday party in a bar in Galway in 2015.During the trial which took place in Galway Circuit Court in 2019, it was heard that he forcibly penetrated theminor with his fingers after pulling off her jeans. There was no informative DNA evidence in this case. The forensicscientist from FSI was able to state that the damage to the injured parties clothing was not due to normal wearand tear and was more likely caused by pulling with force. Kevin Corcoran was subsequently sentenced to 6 yearsin prison by Judge Rory McCabe.Case Study 4Robert Elston was a father of one who was fatallystabbed in May 2018.During the 2019 trial of Blake Sweeney for the murder of Robert Elston, a forensic scientist from FSI gave evidenceof finding blood matching the deceased on a knife that was located in the garden of a neighbouring house. Thetrial heard that a confrontation happened between the two men following an attempt by the deceased to set fire toa car outside the Sweeney family home. Blake Sweeney was found guilty of the manslaughter of Robert Elston andwas sentenced to 7 years in prison.Case Study 5In February 2016, a gunman pulled up alongsideVincent Ryan’s car and fatally shot him.Jeffrey Morrow and Paul O’Beirne both pled guilty at their trial to facilitating a serious offence contrary to Section72 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006. The court heard that they had provided (and subsequently destroyed) astolen Volkswagen Golf that the gunman used in the “drive-by” shooting. A forensic scientist from FSI examined atarpaulin cover that was recovered from Mr O’Beirne’s wheelie bin in March 2016 and found dog hairs. The ownerof the stolen Volkswagen car used in the shooting had a tarpaulin in his car to prevent hairs from his two pet dogsgetting on the upholstery. Subsequent DNA profiling of the dog hairs by an animal testing lab showed a matchbetween the hairs on the tarpaulin (taken from the suspect’s bin) and the owner’s pet bulldog. Jeffrey Morrow wassentenced to 11 years in prison while Paul O’Beirne received a sentence of 9 years.9
Case Study 62019 saw the end of the longest criminal trial inIrish history when Pat Quirke was found guilty ofthe murder of Bobby Ryan.Bobby Ryan was last seen in June 2011 and remained a missing person until a body was recovered on the farmof Mary Lowry in 2013, in an unused underground tank. FSI were able to identify the body as being that of BobbyRyan by comparing the DNA profile of his two children to the DNA from a tooth taken from the recovered body.Case Study 7DNA profiling was used to help solve eight missingperson cases in 2019 in collaboration with theMissing Person Unit of An Garda Síochána.Four of the identifications, those of Patrick Gallagher (missing since 1999 and whose body was exhumed inWexford, March 2
Contents. Foreword 2 Before reporting on our progress during 2019 I want to thank all the staff of FSI for their flexibility . FSI is a founding member of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI), as well as the
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