In my day fingerprinting, fibre matching, blood groups, paint matching and glass matching were the cutting edge of forensics. Never for a moment would I have thought a criminal would one day be caught by being matched to their relative.
Craig Harman was a shop assistant when he wasn’t stealing cars. He tried to steal a Renault Clio on 21st March 2003. The scene was in Brackendale Road, Camberley, Surrey, UK. The car was not going anywhere so it was rolled into a hedgerow. Harman then walked towards a bridge over the M3 motorway nearby.
On the way he picked up two house bricks. Once on the bridge, between junctions four and three, he dropped one of the bricks into the traffic.
Mr Michael Little was driving a truck as the brick was dropped. He had worked for 26 years as a truck driver. The brick went through the windscreen and struck him a fatal blow in the chest. Mr Little still managed to steer the truck onto the hard shoulder, put on the hazard warning lights and switch off the engine before he died. A tough guy who saved lives in his last moments.
His partner told SurreyLive, ‘Micky was a precious and special man who was loved by his family, friends and colleagues. He was taken from us brutally and in such a senseless way. It will be very difficult for us to all piece together our lives without him.’
So a good, hard working man is killed by a thief and for what purpose?
It took 12 month work before Harman stood in court and admitted that he had dropped that brick. He had left blood in the car he had tried to steal. This blood obviously had his DNA and blood was transferred to the brick, but his DNA was not on record. Then a new method of familial DNA was used.
This process looks for similarities among the samples on the DNA database. Relatives of criminals who have been arrested are far more likely to have some elements of their profile in common than just anyone in the population. In this case Harman had some blood relation that was on the database and from that the cops got Harman himself.
Well I hope I never break the law to that extent. Not that I would do anything similar but life is a rocky path and who knows what lies ahead. If I did my family would not be the best source for this type of DNA match. That said even drink/ driving (DUI) means a sample is taken so who knows. It is a great law enforcement tool and you have got to love the fact that it got Harman.
What a terrible, awful, nasty crime. He was convicted of manslaughter because of course he did not know the dropped brick would kill. It might have missed a vehicle or dented the roof. I personally think the law should change however. Harman was 20 years old. To say he had no idea it could kill is ridiculous. He knew there was a chance and dropped it anyway. He got 6 years for that, no wonder the world is a mess.
I update on DNA forensics when I get a chance. Recently I saw the development of a process that might interest you. If a DNA profile is found it can be put through a process to give a description of the offender. Obviously this is only any use if the DNA is not already in the database. Phenotyping has been around since 2016. Originally it was used to give hair, eye and ethnic background indicators. Its gone on a bit from there.