Chief: Expand DNA databank

Mon, August 9, 2004

TORONTO'S TOP cop is hoping DNA samples like that used on the weekend to nab a sexual assault suspect will become as common for investigators as fingerprinting. Chief Julian Fantino wants DNA samples taken from a suspect at the time of an arrest, rather than after a conviction.

"It is a piece of legislation that's proving itself valuable even as it is in its limited form," he said yesterday. "What we are looking for is an enhanced ability to retrieve or harvest DNA samples at the front end of cases where we arrest people.

"It is the same way we do for fingerprints."

On Saturday, police apprehended Todd Bryce Stoute, 20, at his home in Aurora, charging him with three sex-related offences as well as forcible confinement, threatening death and robbery.

Stoute gave a DNA sample after being convicted July 4 of a violent robbery in York Region, Staff-Insp. Bruce Smollet, of the sex crimes unit, said.

Stoute's data was placed in the National DNA Databank.

"With the use of his DNA it probably shortened this case up by an immeasurable amount," Smollet said.

Smollet said for a DNA sample to be taken all that is needed is a small swab of saliva from a suspect's mouth.

"Right now England (takes DNA samples) on almost every offence upon arrest. Just like we do on fingerprints on arrest," Smollet said.

Added Fantino: "If there are going to be changes made to this legislation it will have to be our political leaders and policy makers that will make this happen."

Stoute is one of two alleged suspects in the June 26 abduction of a 17-year-old girl from outside Zippers nightclub on Carlton St. The victim was driven to Scarborough, where she was viciously sexually assaulted and left in a dumpster.

A second suspect is sought in the attack who goes by the street name "Mike" or "Mikey." He is described as black, age 23, 5-foot-10, with a slim build and very closely cropped hair.


Comment:  Fantino expects all to believe that the police will always act properly and that we can always "trust the police" not to abuse their powers.

Fantino's plan to dna test every person arrested would lead to large scale abuses solely to arrest people not for any crime but purely for the purpose of obtaining a DNA sample.

Fantino's is an intelligent man and experienced police chief with unlimited legal advice available on tap. His plan for DNA testing of suspects fails to consider that the plan would probably be abused on a large scale basis and open up a Pandora's box of new ways for fabrication of evidence, malicious prosecutions and abuse of process.

Fantino's plan is fatally flawed. DNA tests should not be involuntarily obtained absent a court order obtained after a hearing to balance the rights of the accused and the benefit to society.