Shoe Print and DNA Led Police to Attacker
A shoe print, DNA and traditional policing helped Dyfed-Powys Police track down a dangerous offender who committed a serious sexual assault in Tenby, Pembrokeshire.
In the early hours of Monday, January 9, 2017, Andrew Edwin Check, aged 30, climbed through a window of a house, found the victim in her bed and subjected her to a serious sexual assault whilst in possession of a knife.
A footwear mark was recovered by Crime Scene Investigators, which was believed to belong to the offender.
Using specialist technology, a national database and the eye of the force’s footwear specialist, the type of footwear was identified as a particular type of Fred Perry trainer.
This information was passed on to officers undertaking house to house enquiries in Tenby and helped identify Check as a suspect.
DNA evidence of the victim was later found on a glove located in the home of Check.
This evidence proved conclusively that Check was responsible for the crime and led to him submitting a guilty plea at Swansea Crown Court.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Ifan Charles said: “This was a particularly disturbing incident and I am pleased to see justice served today for the victim and the community of Tenby with the sentencing of Andrew Edwin Check.
“There is no doubt that the specialist work of the Scientific Support Unit coupled with the vigilance of officers during their local enquiries led to Check being identified, arrested, charged and convicted.
“I must also thank the victim of this horrible crime for her bravery during the investigation. Despite going through a most distressing experience she remained composed, provided police with a detailed description of the offender, vital information of the incident and followed advice on preserving evidence, which assisted greatly in the investigation to catch her attacker.”
Nicola Powell, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The evidence obtained and support of the victim meant the CPS could advise on charges at an early stage. It also meant that we had a strong case which resulted in a guilty plea. What happened to the victim was truly frightening, and the guilty plea removed the need for her to relive the incident at Court. Her cooperation throughout this process has led to Andrew Check being brought to justice.”
After receiving a report of the incident, CSI attended and worked through the night capturing potential evidence from the scene. They recovered a footwear print from the scene and processed the image allowing it to be analysed by the force’s footwear specialist back at police Headquarters.
Dyfed-Powys Police uses the latest advancements in footwear identification, including footwear scanning equipment, access to a national databased containing almost 38,000 images of different classifications of footwear prints and providing appropriate training and qualifications for the specialist role to be performed.
Footwear Officer, Adele Benjafield, said: “The evidential value of footwear is becoming more recognised. Its value is on a par with finger prints and DNA samples and scans of footwear are routinely taken of people who come through our custody suites.
“In this investigation, we were fortunate to retrieve footwear prints from the scene, which is down to the weather conditions that night and the fact that the victim had not touched or moved anything prior to CSI attending.”
Adele spent several hours scanning the database searching for a pattern match. She found a shoe that matched the various elements of the pattern and it was a particular design of Fred Perry trainer.
“I urge officers not to become transfixed on the brand of shoe normally, as it’s the pattern of the sole that is important, however the brand proved crucial in this investigation,” she said.
Officers took the footwear analysis work on board and during local enquiries spotted a pair of Fred Perry trainers matching the description. While this turned out not to be the actual pair of shoes worn during the attack, it provided a substantial link to the suspect. He was arrested soon after.
She said: “When I found out the footwear analysis had provided a link to the suspect my first reaction was feeling pleased that the work I’d carried out had led to this dangerous man being located. I then felt impressed that the police officers making local enquiries had understood the importance of the footwear analysis. The science is only as good as the humans using it. I did the work to identify the footwear, but if officers had not taken that on board and used the information they had, it would not have been worth anything.”
Another key piece of evidence in the prosecution case was the finding of the victim’s DNA on a black glove found at the suspect’s home. DNA-17 – the latest DNA profiling methodology – was used.
Assistant Director of Scientific Support, Glan Thomas, said: “We use the latest technology and methods to retrieve DNA from pieces of evidence and scenes of crime. DNA-17 methodology was used in this investigation and we were able to retrieve the victim’s DNA from a black glove found at the suspect’s home, which positively linked him to the attack.
“I’m pleased the Scientific Support Unit was able to play such a pivotal role in helping bring Check to justice. We have a team of highly-skilled, experienced specialists who work alongside hard-working and effective detectives. Solving a crime such as this and preventing anyone else from being harmed is what this job is all about.”