A Clarence Valley Council ranger with the DNA swabs collected for evidence. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
A Clarence Valley Council ranger with the DNA swabs collected for evidence. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

DNA test clears South Grafton attack suspect

INVESTIGATORS have called for public assistance after an attack at a South Grafton property which left a woman with a puncture wound to the thigh.

The appeal comes after the case's primary suspect was cleared by DNA sampling.

Following the attack, which took place in Bligh St in April, the victim was able to give a reasonably detailed description of the perpetrator and led investigators to a neighbouring property from which she thought the culprit had come.

She later identified the attacker from a photo line-up.

But on the back of strenuous denials and the lack of any independent witnesses, investigators sent DNA samples from the woman's wounds to a specialist laboratory in Victoria for analysis, which cleared the initial suspect.

It sounds like an extract from a police investigation but what makes this case unique is that the suspect is a canine and the investigation is being carried out by Clarence Valley Council rangers.

Environment, planning and community director Des Schroder said it was the first time the council had taken DNA samples from victims and swabs from suspected animals for analysis, but demonstrated the importance council placed on ensuring it got the right result from its investigations.

"The DNA analysis was the most cost-effective way of determining whether the dog the woman identified was the culprit or not," he said.

"If we had taken the matter to court based on the evidence we had - and it was seemingly reliable evidence - it could have cost thousands with no result. It shows how seriously we take the integrity of the orders we serve."

Mr Schroder said rangers were now looking for a large, dark coloured great dane cross.

"We have the DNA profile of the offending dog, which will help in any further investigations," he said.

People with information about the dog that may have been responsible for the attack can phone 6643 0200.

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