Cold cases: How DNA can prove innocence - or guilt

Several famous cases have been solved after DNA testing revealed the innocence or guilt of a defendant

Stefan Kiszko was convicted in 1976 of murdering and sexually assaulting 11-year-old Lesley Molseed. He spent 16 years in prison before being released in 1992 after it was shown that the semen on the body could not have been his. In 2007, Ronald Castree was found to have the same DNA as Lesley's killer and was convicted and jailed for life.

The Cardiff Three, Steven Miller, Yusef Abdullahi and Tony Paris, were jailed for life for the murder of Lynette White, who was stabbed more than 50 times in Cardiff in 1988. They were cleared on appeal in 1992. New DNA techniques led to the conviction in 2003 of Jeffrey Gafoor, who was jailed for life for the murder. The three are currently involved in a civil action for compensation.

Colin Stagg was arrested and charged with the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common in 1992 and cleared in 1994. Robert Napper, a convicted rapist who was already serving a sentence in Broadmoor, was convicted last year on the basis of new DNA evidence.

John Humble, the man better known as "Wearside Jack", who hoaxed detectives investigating murders by the Yorkshire Ripper, was caught after officers matched a DNA sample from an envelope with a sample of his DNA on their national database.

James Hanratty was hanged in 1962 and is one of the most famous alleged cases of miscarriage of justice. An appeal filed on his behalf was dismissed in 2002, when the court of appeal ruled that DNA analysis of fabrics recovered from the scene of the murder of Michael Gregsten and rape of Valerie Storie in 1961 provided "certain proof" that Hanratty was guilty - a claim still challenged by his family and campaigners.

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