Peter Gill: An Opportunistic Expert Never At Trial and Never At Either Rome Police Lab
Posted by The Machine
So many of Amanda Knox’s high-profile supporters such as Frank Sforza, Candace Dempsey, Doug Preston, Bruce Fischer, Nina Burleigh and Steve Moore have something in common - they have cynically tried to make a profit from Meredith’s tragic murder.
Now we turn our big guns on tendentious DNA expert and Johnny-come-lately Dr Peter Gill. When Gill tried to cast doubt on the bra clasp and knife evidence with copious innuendo in the media early in 2014, it was a fairly safe bet that a book would follow suit.
Predictably, Gill’s book Misleading DNA Evidence: Reasons for Miscarriages of Justice was published later that year in June.
In this article I will explain the weak basis for his claims about the Meredith Kercher case and examine them to see whether he did real research.
Any hopes that Peter Gill did meticulously research the Meredith Kercher case before writing his book are almost immediately dashed. He embarrassingly refers to Meredith as “Meridith”. Is it too much to expect him to be able to spell the victim’s name correctly, especially when he is putting himself forward as an expert on the case and using his DNA credentials to bolster his credibilty?
In three specific places in his book, he refers to the case as a “miscarriage of justice” even though at the time Knox and Sollecito were still appealing their convictions for murder and sexual assault back in 2009. The appeal judge Judge Nencini then also found them guilty of murder and sexual assault in Florence in 2013.
Peter Gill was never in a position where he could conclude there had been a miscarriage of justice. Unlike the judges and lay judges, he hadn’t attended any of the court hearings in Perugia or Florence, he doesnt speak any Italian, and he has never been to the two labs that processed the DNA in Rome.
Upstanding forensic scientists limit their comments solely to their specific area of expertise, and they allow the courts to ultimately decide whether defendants are guilty or not guilty - and not act as partisan advocates. That’s certainly the stance Peter Gill took when replying to an e-mail to TJMK poster Swansea Jack on 28 June 2014.
Thanks for your email.
I cant control how people interpret my comments. I am not getting involved in a debate that specifically addresses the ulitmate issue of innocence/guilt of individuals since that is the purpose of the court. I can only comment on the probative value of the DNA evidence. I dont know definitively how the DNA was transferred - I simply make a list of all of the possibilities. I dont comment on the non-DNA evidence.
It was dishonest of Peter Gill to claim he wasn’t getting involved in a debate that specifically addressed the ultimate issue of innocence or guilt when he had already done that by categorically stating the convictions of Knox and Sollecito were a “miscarriage of justice” in his book.
It wasn’t the first time Peter Gill had blown backwards and forwards on an important topic and made contradictory comments. Here is judicial criticism of some of his comments during his testimony at the Omagh bomb trial.
Dr Peter Gill, an exponent of the Low Copy Number DNA technique, conceded some of the results presented in the bomb trial were “valueless”.
Mr Justice Weir warned Dr Gill about “blowing backwards and forwards” on “an important topic”.
The judge said it was “very unhelpful” to give apparently contradictory evidence. Sean Hoey denies 58 charges, including 29 murders in Omagh in 1998.
Mr Hoey is a 37-year-old electrician from Molly Road, Jonesborough in County Armagh.
Low Copy Number DNA - a technique whereby DNA profiles can be obtained from samples containing only a few cells - is an important part of the prosecution case.
Dr Gill had been asked to comment on claims that control samples tested at the same time as parts of a device in Lisburn had come up positive for Mr Hoey’s DNA type.
That finding, said defence QC Orlando Pownall, should have meant that the tests were run again. The fact that they weren’t meant the results were invalid, he claimed.
“I think it invalidates the result,” Dr Gill agreed.
Dr Gill was also challenged over what appeared to be conflicting evidence on the reliability of Low Copy Number DNA testing.
Mr Pownall was questioning him about the amounts of DNA below which results could be relied on.
Giving evidence, Dr Gill said at a certain DNA level information taken from the results could be “informative”.
But Mr Pownall pointed out that in papers Dr Gill had written on the subject he had said that at that level the results were “uninformative”.
Mr Justice Weir intervened to say it “seems rather an important topic on which to be blowing backwards and forwards on.
In July 2016, Peter Gill wrote an academic paper about the Meredith Kercher case for Forensic Science Genetics: Analysis and implications of the miscarriages of justice of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. He made the following false claims:
“The final judgement exonerated the defendants” and “Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were exonerated in March 2015”.
Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito weren’t exonerated in March 2015 - they were merely acquitted with the weakest language available under Italian law.
There is a significant difference here. They were acquitted under paragraph 2 of article 530, which is merely an insufficient evidence acquittal. Had they been acquitted under paragraph one of article 530, then that would have been a definitive acquittal or exoneration.
Judge Bruno and Judge Marasca, the Supreme Court judges who acquitted them, said it was likely they would have convicted Knox and Sollecito of Meredith Kercher’s murder if the police hadn’t made claimed errors in their investigation:
“If it were not for the weak investigation and if the investigation had not been affected by guilty omissions, the court would, in all likelihood, be allowed right now to outline a framework, if not on absolute certainty at least of tranquil reliability, in view of the guilt Knox and Sollecito for killing the British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia on Nov. 1, 2007.”
Bruno and Marasca stated Meredith had been killed by Rudy Guede and others. They also said it’s certain that Amanda Knox was at the cottage when Meredith was killed and she washed Meredith’s blood off in the small bathroom. Furthermore, they said Sollecito was probably there. It’s not difficult to work out who the others are. Bruno and Marasca didn’t exonerate Knox and Sollecito - they clearly implicated them in Meredith’s murder.
I don’t know whether Peter Gill knows about Bruno and Marasca’s comments. If he doesn’t know about them, it was remiss of him not to read the whole report and refer to these comments in his academic paper. If he does know about them, he’s guilty of deliberately misleading the forensic community as well as the general public.
Is it just a coincidence that filmmakers responsible for the Netflix documentary Amanda Knox also cherrypicked comments made by Bruno and Marasca which were favourable to Knox and Sollecito, but completely ignored all their comments which were not?
Amanda Knox’s advocates in the media have always brushed inconvenient facts under the carpet. Their intention has always been to persuade the public that she’s innocent - not inform them and let them make up their own minds. Anyone who deliberately hides information that shows Knox and Sollecito in a bad light doesn’t care about Meredith or truth and justice.
More to come.