Perth trial of alleged killer of Irish woman hinges on DNA

Bradley Robert Edwards (50) charged over death of Ciara Glennon (27) in March 1997

Ciara Glennon: was a young lawyer at the Blake Dawson Waldron firm in Perth when she disappeared. File photograph: PerthNow

Ciara Glennon: was a young lawyer at the Blake Dawson Waldron firm in Perth when she disappeared. File photograph: PerthNow

 

A sole piece of DNA evidence from an Irish woman killed in Australia more than 20 years ago could hold the key to one of the most anticipated trials in the country’s history.

Bradley Robert Edwards (50) will appear before a Western Australian court on Monday charged over the death of Ciara Glennon, whose family are originally from Westport in Co Mayo.

Ms Glennon (27) disappeared on the night of March 14th, 1997, after celebrating St Patrick’s Day with friends in the upmarket suburb of Claremont, Perth.

Her parents, Denis and Una Glennon, identified their daughter’s body three weeks later after it was found in bushland, 50km north of Perth.

A postmortem on her body revealed the cause of death was consistent with a neck injury such as a laceration.

In an update published in early November, Western Australian supreme court justice Stephen Hall allowed state prosecutors to submit late evidence of DNA material found under the fingertips of Ms Glennon.

‘Claremont serial killings’

Prosecutors will allege the DNA belongs to Mr Edwards, who is also accused of the murders of Sarah Spiers (18), and Jane Rimmer (23), who also both vanished from the Claremont area in the mid-1990s. The killings were later dubbed the Claremont serial killings.

The state is expected to argue Ms Glennon scratched Mr Edwards’s face before he murdered her, with the DNA allegedly located underneath her fingernails when her body was found.

The prosecution will call on UK-based Principal Forensic Services scientist Jonathan Whitaker, who will consider whether that DNA was a result of passive social contact, or the scratching of a person.

Mr Edwards’s defence lawyer Paul Yovich has previously stated he would challenge the DNA evidence, claiming it could have been contaminated.

The DNA evidence is expected to form a crucial part of the trial, as it is the single piece of such evidence the state has in relation to Mr Edwards.

Justice Hall – who will preside over the non-jury trial, expected to last six months – also allowed fibres from Ms Glennon’s hair, which prosecutors allege matched those from the same model of Holden Commodore Mr Edwards was driving when he was employed as a technician for Telstra at the time of her death.

Talented lawyer

Ms Glennon was a young lawyer at the Blake Dawson Waldron firm in Perth when she disappeared.

She grew up in the leafy suburb of Mosman Park after her family emigrated to Australia when she was six. Ms Glennon had taken some time off work to travel the world, including visiting relatives in Ireland.

She returned to Perth in February 1997 to be a bridesmaid for her sister Denise, but was killed before the wedding date.

Una and Denis Glennon have attended almost every pre-trial hearing. The Glennon family have been media-shy, but when Mr Edwards was arrested in late 2016 Mr Glennon told Perth media it was a “very bittersweet” moment.

“This is a very raw and bittersweet time,” Mr Glennon said. “We are being updated by the WA Police, and hence it is best that I do not comment on the recent developments.”

Mr Edwards had pleaded not guilty to the murders of Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon.