The DNA profiling of two men accused of being involved in a Mount Maunganui home invasion was put under the spotlight in the fifth day of their trial yesterday. Chaliedene Taueki and Maninoa Vincent Felise have each pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated robbery and a charge of aggravated burglary following the July 20, 2018, home invasion.
The Crown says the defendants were part of a group of armed and masked intruders who held a couple at gunpoint, demanding drugs and money in a case of mistaken identity.
However, the defence says the two men were not in Tauranga when the event happened.
As senior forensic scientist Joanna Veth took the stand, Crown prosecutor Anna Pollett went through several exhibits in which DNA samples were taken and tested from. These included a knife, disposable gloves and a piece of cloth.
The court heard the DNA profiles provided "strong scientific evidence" that Taueki and Felise's DNA was found on several items. Veth told the court of "likelihood ratios" of up to 400,000 million - suggesting the high probability the DNA belongs to Felise and Taueki.
However, under cross-examination Veth said it was possible the DNA could have been left or transferred on to the items months or weeks before.
Defence counsel Ron Mansfield, acting for Felise, questioned whether a DNA finding was conclusive of his client's immediate involvement.
"Just because there is a person's DNA on it, it doesn't mean that they were the last person who last used that item of clothing?"
Veth answered: "That's correct. That may just mean they wore the clothing a lot in the past. It doesn't necessarily mean they are the last person to wear that clothing - that's possible."
Mansfield questioned whether the DNA finding from a probable saliva stain on the piece of cloth came from the material prior to the staining or indirect transfer afterwards.
Veth said that while bodily fluids such as saliva contained far more DNA than that of skin or indirect transfer, it could not be ruled out.
Mansfield went on to question whether Veth could determine if a DNA finding was deposited via direct or indirect transfer.
Veth gave an example of indirect transfer as some person shaking hands with another and that person then picking up a cup, they could then indirectly transfer the first person's DNA.
The court heard Taueki's DNA was found on the pair of disposable gloves that had been located inside the pocket of a jacket found at the scene.
Counsel Steven Lack questioned whether there was any chance of determining if the DNA could have come from someone simply putting his hands inside the pockets, thus indirectly transferring his DNA on to the gloves.
"And you are not able to tell us when the DNA was deposited, is that right?"
Veth agreed such examples could not be ruled out.
In her readdress, Pollett told the court: "There has been a number of speculation examples given to you. Would the other examples affect the likelihood ratio [of each DNA finding]?
Veth answered "no".
The trial continues.