How three words opened a black hole in Qld’s justice system

Statements will be found and corrected by police, health and justice department task forces. They will then retest each related sample, which is expected to number in the thousands, and assess the impact on criminal cases.

But the larger question, still unanswered, is how and why it happened, and who – if anyone – is responsible. While Sofronoff remained clear in this report, two senior lab executives were removed from their positions by the department, pending the outcome of a final document expected in December.

The questions will likely be unchecked during the public hearings which are also due to begin next week. A brief from the Director of Public Prosecutions suggested the decision may have been made in the context of “workload pressures”.

Several reviews and reports dating back to at least 2005 point to resource and funding issues in the Queensland forensic space. The latest, from the Queensland Audit Office, revealed the lab had struggled to keep pace with growing demand for DNA testing in the five years to 2018.

About $1 million had been lost from the laboratory’s budget and four full-time equivalents had been cut from its roster, while the number of samples analyzed jumped 21% and official interagency bodies responsible for high-level planning level had disappeared.


“This vacuum means that unnecessary delays and inefficient practices are hampering the delivery of forensic services in Queensland,” the 2018 report notes.

Until Sofronoff makes his own findings, a small wording change will reverberate across the state. While some have previously told him that police “know” what the statements mean, Sofronoff wasn’t sure they, or the lawyers, judges and juries, knew.

“It is also unlikely, and no one has suggested it, that a crime victim who was reported to by a police officer with such a result received a conceptual scientific explanation,” he said.

“The choice of language was unfortunate. It has been used for a long time. You don’t have to use it anymore. »

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