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Linkage Analysis as Evidence in Court: A Thematic Analysis of Mock Juror Deliberations

Fawcett, H and Clark, K (2015) Linkage Analysis as Evidence in Court: A Thematic Analysis of Mock Juror Deliberations. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling, 12 (3). pp. 247-266. ISSN 1544-4759

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Abstract

Linkage analysis has, albeit occasionally, been presented in courts across the worldas evidence that a series of offences possess behavioural similarities and distinctive-ness from other offences, m eaning they have probably been committed by t he sameindividual. I t is therefore imperative to ascertain how linkage ana lysis is regardedby juries within the context of deliberations. Three groups o f participants (N = 22)eligible for jury duty in England and Wales viewed a simulated rape and murder trialderived from an actual South A frican case. Linkage analysis formed the sole evidenceagainst the defendant in th e two later offences, although DNA matches and eyewitnessidentifications of the defendant were p resent in the two earlier offences. Participantdeliberations were recorded and subjected to thematic an alysis. Five themes werediscovered: behavioural consistencies and inconsistencies, physical versus caselinkage evidence, barriers to admissibility, potential uses of linkage analysis, anddependence of lay knowledge. Jurors’ over-reliance on erroneous lay knowledgecontributed to their conclusion that linkage analysis is, at present, unrepresentativeevidence that cannot independently indicate a defend ant’s culpability. However,participants believed that linkage analysis could be a use ful tool within investigationsand, with further research evidence, in court in England and Wales.

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