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Last month, a compelling TV programme revisited the case of Colin Pitchfork - the first person to be convicted because of DNA evidence.

In 1988, Pitchfork admitted raping and murdering two 15-year-old girls, Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, after his DNA matched samples found at the scene of both crimes.

The former baker was caught after the world's first mass screening for DNA, in which 5,000 men in three villages in Leicestershire were asked to volunteer blood or saliva samples; he'd initially evaded capture by getting a friend to take the test for him.

As Pitchfork approaches the end of his 28-year minimum jail term, the ITV drama-documentary, Code of a Killer, was a timely reminder of the debt we owe to the inventor of DNA profiling, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, and Detective Chief Superintendent David Baker, the investigating officer who had the determination and courage to ensure the technique was applied in the case.

Now, of course, DNA evidence is almost taken for granted.

DNA database:

  • Since 1995, the genetic information from DNA samples taken by police across the...
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