The trial of four men, charged with 41 offences, continues at Winchester Crown Court
DNA evidence linking one of four men accused of robbing a Farnborough bank to an improvised balaclava recovered by police in December 2010 had a ‘one in a billion’ chance of being inaccurate, a court has heard.
A jury at Winchester Crown Court continues to hear prosecution evidence as the trial of four men alleged to have carried out a six-month spree of offending across the south east nears the end of its fourth week.
Denying the offences are Andrew Smith, 27, of Montrose Avenue in Slough; Richard Loveridge, 27, of Ditton Road in Datchet; Lee Fitzgerald, 37, of Perrycroft Road in Windsor; and Stewart Last, 28, of Filmer Road, also in Windsor.
All four are charged with conspiring to commit both burglary and robbery for their respective parts in 41 offences, committed during a six-month period from August 4, 2011, to February 8, 2012, throughout Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire and Surrey.
This included on January 9, 2012, an £85,000 heist at the Santander bank in Eastmead, Farnborough, at around 10.20pm when three of the defendants, driving a white VW Golf, are alleged to have targeted a Group 4 Security (G4S) van.
The court heard how two men – sporting balaclavas – got out of the car and rushed at the security staff with a sledgehammer and a metal disc cutter, making off with the cash.
On October 1 the jury heard evidence from forensic scientist Keith Unwin.
Prosecutor James Newton-Price introduced the item in question as a ‘self-made improvised black face mask’ made of a segment of fabric – thought to be t-shirt material – with two eye holes and a mouth hole.
“This item was found in the jacket pocket of clothing in the boot of a Ford Focus on the A308 in Windsor on December 27 2010,” said Mr Newton-Price.
Mr Unwin explained how the item had undergone a presumptive test for amylase, an enzyme commonly found in saliva. After 10 minutes the test showed strong evidence of amylase around the mouth area of the mask, he told the court. The expert went on to explain a DNA profile matched to the saliva found on the mask fit that of defendant Smith.
And when asked by Mr Newton-Price the likelihood this was inaccurate, Mr Unwin replied: “Probably one in a billion, maybe rarer than that even
The court also heard how the gang allegedly used a sledgehammer and what was thought to be an axe to bludgeon their way into a branch of Nationwide in Havant at around 10.30pm on November 25.
The trial continues.