DNA test for 1,200 lorry drivers

CHRIS MOWBRAY

and JASON BENNETTO

DNA testing is to be used nationally for the first time in an attempt to catch the murderer of the French student Celine Figard, whom police revealed yesterday was probably raped before being strangled.

The naked body of Celine, 19, was found dumped in woodland in Worcestershire 10 days after she was given a lift by a lorry driver.

Police hunting her killer said yesterday that they intended to take DNA samples from all 1,200 drivers of white Mercedes lorries, similar to the one which Celine climbed into before she disappeared.

It will be the first time that mass testing has been carried out nationally and on the members of a particular trade. Large-scale screening in previous murder inquiries has only been done on a local basis.

In the most recent case up to 800 DNA samples, from mouth swabs, were taken from young men in the hunt for the killer of the schoolgirl Naomi Smith. The tests started in October from the village of Ansley Common, near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where Naomi, 15, was found stabbed and sexually assaulted. In November a 19-year-old man was charged with her murder.

The latest development in the Celine murder inquiry comes as police revealed that the student had been raped. Samples taken from her body have provided police with DNA, which they believe belongs to her killer. Forensic scientists plan to compare this sample with those taken from the lorry drivers. Anyone refusing to co-operate will be further investigated.

Celine was last seen on 19 December being given a lift at Chievely Services on the M4 in Berkshire. The driver of the vehicle is described as a white man, in his late 30s and with fair or ginger hair and a close-cropped beard.

Detective Chief Superintendent John McCammont, the head of West Mercia CID, said: "The forensic evidence shows that she had sexual intercourse since travelling from France and I believe it took place without her consent.

"This sample will be of great value in eliminating drivers from our investigation. If we carry out DNA testing on all drivers of white Mercedes lorries, we should find the man responsible or discover that he has gone missing.

"The new evidence will be welcomed by members of the haulage industry who are ... genuinely aghast and appalled."

The DNA from Celine's body will also be checked against the newly established national DNA database of "genetic fingerprints", to see whether it matches any samples taken from criminals or at the scenes of other offences.

The database - the first in the world - was set up last April. Since then police have been able to take samples from anyone being questioned in connection with a recorded crime. At first, only samples from a limited number of categories - sex offences, burglary and serious assault - are being recorded.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine