DNA test boss invented paternity results

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The Independent Online

A businessman who set up a paternity testing firm and then made up the results of clients' tests faces jail after pleading guilty to 16 counts of theft.

A businessman who set up a paternity testing firm and then made up the results of clients' tests faces jail after pleading guilty to 16 counts of theft.

Simon Mullane, 39, who was based in Poole, Dorset, but now lives in Granada, Spain, pleaded guilty at Bournemouth magistrates' court to the offences, which took place between May and August 2002.

Mullane acted as managing director of a firm called High Profile DNA and charged victims up to £600 to send DNA samples of father and child to Canada for analysis.

The tests had to be sent away because a potential father cannot get a test without the mother's consent in Britain. But after taking a fee, Mullane failed to send some of the samples away to a laboratory and simply guessed the results of some of his clients' tests.

He then wrote a letter to his victims, informing them that their results were positive or negative. As a result some of the victims were given the entirely wrong results and went on to believe that they were or were not the parent of a child.

After police learnt of the scam they offered the victims a legitimate DNA test to confirm if their tests had been correct.

Police believe Mullane's firm ceased contact with the Canadian laboratory in April 2002. In the following four months he still sent out paternity test results purporting to be from the Canadian company.

When police raided his business in Parkstone, Poole, they found a sealed envelope with a swab sample inside. Although the sample had not been sent for analysis, Mullane had already posted the male client a "positive" result.

Speaking after the court hearing, Mullane admitted what he did was wrong. But he said it happened because the business took off and he was swamped with work and things became chaotic:

"We set up the business aiming to do about four or five tests a week, but very soon we were doing 100 a week.

"It was very chaotic and people were having to wait a long time for the results. We sent back a lot of refunds because people were waiting longer than the advertised time," he said.

"In the end, out of 8,000 results 16 were wrong. Four of those got the wrong conclusions, one got another's results and the rest had other paperwork that wasn't correct. I pleaded guilty to 16 charges of theft. I've held my hands up to them and because the paperwork wasn't correct it is theft.

"Four people got the wrong conclusions and I've admitted that. We never set up the business to defraud people."

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: "This was a remarkably mean and cruel offence. In the worst cases people had built up a relationship with a child on the back of a letter that they took as genuine only to find out that it wasn't."

The prosecution agreed not to proceed with 19 further charges of forgery and 19 counts of using a false instrument, to which Mullane had pleaded not guilty yesterday.

Mullane's case was adjourned for reports but he was warned that all sentencing options - including prison - were open for consideration.

Mullane was released on unconditional bail and will be sentenced on 31 August.