Dorset

Hair-in-hand murder DNA 'matched' accused court hears

Heather Barnett
Image caption Ms Barnett had been bludgeoned with a hammer, the court has been told

A trace of DNA found on a blood-stained towel at the home of a mutilated woman closely matched that of the man accused of her murder, a court has heard.

Heather Barnett, 48, was found dead by her children in her Bournemouth flat when they returned from school in 2002.

She was found with someone else's hair in her hand.

Jurors heard the chances of a DNA trace on the towel belonging to someone other than defendant Danilo Restivo, who denies murder, was about one in 57,000.

The green towel was found on a chair and jurors were told there had been various attempts made over the years to obtain DNA from the towel.

Forensics expert Claire Stangoe told the court the towel was examined in 2008 for possible flakes of skin [touch DNA] and submitted for DNA profiling.

'Soaking in bleach'

Tests had found the majority of the DNA on it belonged to Ms Barnett but there were "minor components" of DNA that were left when her profile had been removed, jurors heard.

Ms Stangoe told the court: "These matched the corresponding DNA in the profile of Danilo Restivo. therefore this minor portion of DNA could have come from him."

Image caption Jurors were told there have been various attempts made over the years to obtain DNA from the towel

The chances of it not being Mr Restivo's DNA was about one in 57,000, she said.

The profile did not match Ms Barnett's children, her ex-partner, other members of the Forensic Science Service, Dorset Police or people on the national DNA database, the court was told.

"The only profile that it complied with, that it matched, was that of Mr Restivo," Ms Stangoe told jurors.

Michael Bowes QC, prosecuting, then told the court that a pair of size ten-and-a-half grey Nike trainers was discovered at Mr Restivo's home five days after Mrs Barnett's death.

'Cut throat'

They were soaking in bleach in the downstairs bathroom, jurors heard.

Ms Stangoe said that when the trainers were first examined there were no visible signs of blood but a subsequent chemical test on the insoles indicated the presence of blood on both shoes.

The left shoe indicated the presence of blood right inside near the big toe, the court heard.

Image caption The court heard Mr Restivo, who denies murder, has a hair fetish

"It is one explanation that the stains were caused by someone with traces of wet blood on their on their feet putting their foot into the trainer," she told the court.

Ms Stangoe added that no DNA profile from the blood was found but she said this was likely to be due to the fact the shoe had been put in bleach.

Mr Restivo, who lived opposite the family, is alleged to have entered the flat and bludgeoned Ms Barnett with a hammer before cutting her throat.

The prosecution says Mr Restivo has a hair fetish and left a clump of someone else's hair in Ms Barnett's right hand and some of her hair under her left hand.

Prosecutors say the manner in which Ms Barnett was murdered can be considered Mr Restivo's "hallmark" and have linked the killing to the murder of a teenager, 16-year-old Elisa Claps, in Potenza, Italy, in 1993.

The trial continues.

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