Monday, 17 September 2007

The Telegraph: Evidence obtained by South Yorkshire Police sniffers dogs “no more reliable than 'the flip of a coin"

Meredydd Hughes, South Yorkshire Chief Constable, with Keela

“Kate and Gerry McCann's legal team has contacted American lawyers over a case where key sniffer dog evidence was thrown out of court in the hope that it may help them fight any charges that they were involved in the killing of their daughter; according to today's edition of The Thelegraph. Angus McBride and Michael Caplan “consulted the legal team of Eugene Zapata, 68, who is accused of murdering his estranged wife Jeanette in 1976. But a judge ruled last month that the evidence was no more reliable than "the flip of a coin" and could not be put before a jury” writes The Telegraph, quoting the judge's decision. The sniffer dogs brought to Praia da Luz by a South Yorkshire police special team, Eddie and Keela, are considered the best and only ones with the capacity to detect the scent of a corpse or blood even months after incidents happened.

Keela could be described as ‘top dog’ in her field of expertise. The trained Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) dog has skills like no other and it has left forces worldwide hankering after an insight into her special training”, according to South Yorkshire police. The Springer Spaniel “can sniff out the smallest samples of human blood - even after items have been cleaned or washed many times”, according to the Daily Mail. And Keela earns more than her Chief Constable, something that doesn't bother Mr. Meredydd Hughes, according to The Times. “PC John Ellis, Keela's handler, said that “she can detect minute quantities of blood that cannot be seen with the human eye” and is able to “sniff out blood in clothes after they have been washed repeatedly in biological washing powder”, also according to The Times.

But John Barrett, a former Scotland Yard dog handler, contested the capacity of Keela. He told The Telegraph that the “trained dogs used in an attempt to detect a 'death smell' on Mrs McCann's Bible and clothes were brought in too long after Madeleine vanished”, because “the crucial scent lasts for no longer than a month,” he said.

Duarte Levy (Rothley) and Paulo Reis (Sevilha)