How science brought justice for Fleckney murder victim
Police reveal the process they went to in identifying, tracking down and charging the man who killed Jane Hings.
The following has been released by Leicestershire Police:
7am, Sunday 24 September 2017: An elderly woman is found dead in her Leicestershire home. There are clear signs of a disturbance and all indications point to foul play.
The woman was 72-year-old Jane Hings. She lived alone with her dog and relied on carers to help her go about her days. Someone had entered Jane’s house in Fleckney in the middle of the night and violently attacked her.
There was a dangerous predator at large who needed locating and arresting. Jane couldn’t tell us who attacked her so it was up to the police to find out.
Staff from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit – Forensic Sciences (EMSOU-FS) were responsible for managing the scene and collecting all available forensic evidence. The team spent the next five days scouring Jane’s bungalow for fingerprints, footwear impressions and, most specifically, any opportunities for DNA recovery.
In the meantime, a Home Office post-mortem examination confirmed Jane had been subjected to a terrifying sexual attack before almost certainly being suffocated with a pillow. Critically, as Jane’s body was removed from the scene a metal tongue bar was found on her person.
On Sunday night this piece of jewellery, along with other samples taken during the examination, were sent off to the laboratory for DNA testing. By 6.30pm the following day a full male DNA profile had been recovered from the tongue bar. Half-an-hour later it generated a ‘hit’ on the National DNA Database: 26-year-old Craig Keogh.
Head of EMSOU-FS Andrew Price said: “There’s a saying in forensics: ‘Every contact leaves a trace’. You cannot go anywhere without leaving your mark and it was this principle that led us to Craig Keogh.
“What was different in this case to others before it was the speed in which we were able to turn around the DNA results. Within 20 hours of submission to the lab we had a named suspect, meaning the investigation team could narrow their enquiries to focus on just one man.
“This unprecedented outcome was the result of a new partnering arrangement with private company Cellmark. It means here in the East Midlands we are no longer a customer having to wait our turn in the queue, but now have developed partnerships in crimefighting. We have brought the science closer to the investigation and, in turn, created better access to the full gamut of forensic options to best serve each case.”
At 9am on Tuesday 26 September DNA extracted from the samples were found to match that from the jewellery, indicating the wearer of the tongue bar had also sexually assaulted Jane. That afternoon Keogh was traced to a caravan in Fleckney, where he was arrested.
Meanwhile, the testing of three pillowcases also showed Jane’ saliva in a concentrated patch in the centre of one, supporting the hypothesis that she was suffocated. Keogh’s ‘touch DNA’ (from sweat likely left from his hands) was also found on the short edges of all three.
Keogh’s DNA was also on a Gucci cap, found wedged between the head of the bed and wall, on Jane’s stolen wedding ring — which he had sold to a city pawnbrokers in the hours following the murder — and on her mobile phone — taken that night and dumped in a drain.
And so, forensics had placed Keogh at the scene, indicated that he had raped his victim and suggested that he’d stolen her belongings. It also showed he had been in contact with the pillow Jane had likely been suffocated with. This, together with other evidence gathered from CCTV and witness accounts, was enough to charge him with murder, two counts of rape and burglary.
Yesterday (Monday 19 March), following a five-day trial at Birmingham Crown Court, the now 26-year-old was found guilty of all charges.
Senior Investigating Officer David Swift-Rollinson said: “Craig Keogh consistently denied any involvement in the crimes against Jane Hings, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He has shown no shred of remorse, rather displayed a chilling arrogance throughout.
“Keogh is an extremely dangerous individual whom, and without doubt the forensic evidence in this case helped us to arrest him very quickly.
“We anticipate that he will receive a lengthy prison sentence - justice for Jane and a comfort to the Fleckney and wider community knowing that he will no longer pose a threat to society.”