Cat DNA Database Helps Convict British Killer

Good news, though: Tinker the cat is OK

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Aug 14, 2013 12:29 PM CDT

(Newser) – CSI Meow-i? A newly created DNA database of British cats has helped convict a killer. The University of Leicester today said its catalog of feline DNA buttressed the prosecution case against David Hilder, who was convicted of manslaughter last month at a court in the English city of Winchester. It's the first time cat DNA has been used in a criminal trial in the UK, though it's not a global first. (The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California, Davis has been doing so for a decade.)

In the most recent case, investigators were trying to identify the cat hair discovered on the dismembered torso of David Guy, 30, which was discovered hidden in a trash bag on a British beach in July of last year. Detectives matched the hair to a cat belonging to the man's neighbor, Hilder, but they still needed to determine how good the match was. That's where the DNA database came in. The strength of the match could only be determined if the hairs were run against a wider sample of other felines. Only three of the database's 152 samples matched the hairs from the crime scene, suggesting that while the match wasn't perfect, it was still pretty good. Hilder, 47, was sentenced last month to life in prison. And don't fret, cat lovers: The cat, Tinker, is alive and well with new owners.

A newly created DNA database of British cats has helped convict David Hilder, who was convicted of manslaughter last month in Winchester, England, a British university said Wednesday Aug. 14, 2013.
A newly created DNA database of British cats has helped convict David Hilder, who was convicted of manslaughter last month in Winchester, England, a British university said Wednesday Aug. 14, 2013.   (AP Photo / Naomi Koppel)
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