12th Jul, 2020

DNA on defendant's dog lead 'likely' to be Desmond Wooding's, jury told

Harry Leach 2nd Mar, 2020 Updated: 2nd Mar, 2020

DNA found on defendant Adam Mason’s dog lead was ‘430,000 times more likely’ to belong to Droitwich pensioner Desmond Wooding than someone else, a jury was told.

Giving evidence on Day Six of the murder trial was forensic scientist Michael Wheelhouse who explained to the jury that DNA can be found in blood, semen, cells, saliva or other biological materials.

He said a ‘mixture’ of people’s DNA was found on the lead, including the handle, but that ‘some of it was inconclusive’.

Mr Wheelhouse said he found at least four people’s DNA on the lead’s fabric.

He said the DNA belonged to Mr Wooding, Mason and also Paul and Shane Allsopp who were understood to have taken Mason’s dog for a walk ‘from time to time’.

DNA was also found of an unknown fifth individual.

In the test, Mr Wheelhouse used sophisticated software to come up with two probabilities.

One that the DNA belonged to Mr Wooding, and the other that it did not.

“I calculated that the DNA was 430,000 times more likely to have come from the deceased than someone else,” he said.

“My findings very strongly support that at least some of the DNA found came from Desmond Wooding.”

Mr Wheelhouse also noted that blood was ‘highly unlikely’ to have sprayed out of Mr Wooding’s body when the 80-year-old was allegedly stabbed to death.

“I wouldn’t expect the assailant to be blood stained.”

During cross examination, defence barrister David Mason QC asked Mr Wheelhouse if the deceased’s DNA could have transferred on to the lead if the lead was dragged near to Mr Wooding’s home at 63 Vines Lane, where his body was found.

Mr Wheelhouse said it was possible if the lead had come into contact with something that had Mr Wooding’s DNA on it.

David Mason said: “The scientific test you conducted is a probability test, whether something is more likely than something else.

“If only one person’s DNA had been found on the lead it would have had a one in a billion chance of matching with someone else’s DNA.

“But because there is a mixture of DNA it becomes far more complicated doesn’t it?”

Mr Wheelhouse replied: “Yes that is correct.”

Earlier in the trial at Worcester Crown Court, the jury heard how Mr Wooding’s neighbour allegedly saw a man standing in the deceased’s doorway on the night of his death, understood to be on June 23 at around 9pm.

The neighbour described the man as ‘balding slightly, in his 40s, with a dog and sunglasses on his head’.

When Mason, aged 33, was questioned by police last year if he remembered being in Mr Wooding’s doorway he said: “I don’t recall.”

He admitted to wearing sunglasses and walking his dog when shown CCTV footage of himself on Vines Lane near to the time of, when police say, Mr Wooding was murdered.

CCTV footage from earlier on in the day showed Mason punching a pint glass in the Gardeners Arms pub.

Also on trial is Mark Mason, 55, of Plough Lane, Tibberton, who drove his nephew, Adam Mason, away from the scene on June 23.

The prosecution say he intended to impede the apprehension of Adam, knowing or believing him to be guilty of the murder or another offence.

Last year, during an interview with police, he said he would ‘turn his nephew in’ if he thought he had anything to do with Mr Wooding’s death.

The trial continues.

Our report on Day One of the trial can be seen here.

Day Five can be seen here.

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