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DNA breakthrough helps police trace ‘Beast of Bondi’

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25th November, 2022

NSW Health Pathology’s Forensic and Analytical Science Service provided DNA results which assisted NSW police to track down the man known as the ‘Beast of Bondi’, responsible for a series of sexual assaults across Sydney’s eastern suburbs dating back to the 1980s.

When NSW Police con­firmed they had final­ly iden­ti­fied the ser­i­al sex offend­er known as the ‘Beast of Bon­di’ in Sep­tem­ber 2022, our team of foren­sic DNA experts in Syd­ney knew their work had helped solve a cold case span­ning four decades.

The male offend­er tar­get­ed women aged between 14 and 55, enter­ing their homes or abduct­ing them while they were out jog­ging or walking.

The cas­es were assigned to police Strike Force Doreen and includ­ed 31 attempt­ed and actu­al sex­u­al assault offences between 1985 and 2001.

“Strike Force Doreen has been with us for such a long time,” explains Car­ole Field, the DNA data­base man­ag­er at the Foren­sic and Ana­lyt­i­cal Sci­ence Ser­vice (FASS).

“The whole lab gets excit­ed when some­thing like this is solved.

“I always felt we were going to resolve these cas­es, but you just don’t know.”

Ini­tial­ly, attempts were made to match the man’s DNA pro­file across Aus­tralia and inter­na­tion­al­ly, but it wasn’t until advances in DNA tech­nol­o­gy that the foren­sic experts were able to iden­ti­fy a num­ber of men linked to the DNA pro­file of the offender.

The break­through came from a com­bi­na­tion of analysing famil­ial links from DNA sam­ples and tra­di­tion­al police work to trace the offender’s extend­ed fam­i­ly tree.

Foren­sic exam­i­na­tions, includ­ing addi­tion­al Y‑STR test­ing, revealed the DNA was linked to a man who died at the age of 66 ear­li­er this year.

In Sep­tem­ber 2022, it was con­firmed his DNA matched the sus­pect profile.

Over the years, media report­ing on the inci­dents referred to the sus­pect as ‘the Cen­ten­ni­al Park rapist’ (1980s), the Bon­di rapist (1990s), the track­suit rapist (2000) and ‘the Bon­di Beast’ (2016).

Ms Field said the close work­ing rela­tion­ship between the DNA experts at FASS and NSW Police con­tributes to suc­cess­ful outcomes.

“I think the inter­ac­tion between our teams was real­ly use­ful, and that has improved over time,” she said.

“We have a cold case coor­di­na­tor; Dr David Bruce and the police have a ded­i­cat­ed inves­ti­ga­tion team.

“We have a great rela­tion­ship, and we reg­u­lar­ly meet to dis­cuss not just this case, but many aspects of the sci­en­tif­ic DNA analy­sis and capabilities.”

Ms Field said as time goes on, the DNA data­base grows in size and will become an increas­ing­ly pow­er­ful tool to gen­er­ate DNA links and give police the infor­ma­tion they need to solve many oth­er cold cases.


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