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Confusion over DNA on hammer puppy killer accused has new date set for trial

Kyle Keegan

A Co Armagh man accused of bludgeoning a defenceless puppy to death with a hammer has had a new date set for trial.

Kyle Keegan, of Gilpins Manor, Lurgan is charged with causing unnecessary suffering to a chihuahua crossbreed puppy, named Sparky, on February 3 last year.

The 23-year-old pleaded not guilty to the two charges against him when he appeared at Craigavon Crown Court back in November.

Previous courts have heard how the bloodied remains of the 12-week-old pup were uncovered in a bin in Ailsbury Park in Lurgan following a party at the property.

An initial post-mortem on the pup’s remains revealed how Sparky had sustained a number of fractures as well as severe brain trauma.

On Monday, defence barrister Barry McKenna stated: “An issue has arisen in relation to the DNA report; the prosecution relies on this evidence, which was obtained by the forensic services lab.

“The forensic officer took the DNA from the hammer and matched it with other DNA profiles.”

Mr McKenna said that the officer had initially been unable to give statistics but following the use of different software was able to provide this for a preliminary enquiry in January of this year.

He stated: “Initially there were three suspects and the forensic officer claimed they could eliminate two of these.”

Mr McKenna informed court that the defence expert did not feel this was the case.

He explained: “The DNA for the defendant and one of the other suspects was a DNA 17 profile, whilst the other suspect had an SGM DNA profile.”

Mr McKenna said that the information was “quite technical” but he did wish to pass on correspondence to the prosecution.

Prosecution barrister Nicola Auret stated: “I was slightly lost when my learned friend had spoken about this last week but I do understand now.

“The DNA of the other suspect was taken some time ago before the change in profiling.”

She added: “An evidential sample was not taken at the time of his arrest because it was believed he could be eliminated.”

His Honour Judge Patrick Lynch set a new date for contest of June 5, with this to be reviewed on April 30.

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