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Analysis of DNA from pipe bombs and molotov cocktails for forensic casework: a preliminary study

posted on 2021-01-01, 00:00 authored by William Martin
Pipe bombs and Molotov Cocktails have seen use all over the world, as a means of invoking fear and causing damage to property, or even in an attempt to harm or kill. A lesser used means of obtaining evidence from these devices is the collection of touch DNA from the surface of these items. Touch DNA refers to DNA that falls below an optimum threshold of 0.5 nanograms. Due to this smaller quantity of DNA, it is more susceptible to contamination, and upon profile generation, can show signs of inhibition. Fuel types are known to have cytotoxic effects on DNA, causing degradation. This smaller DNA size is also affected by the means of which a pipe bomb is defused. In Victoria, a method known as rendering safe is only used. This involves the attachment of a counter charge to safely detonate the pipe bomb. This, however, comes at the cost of losing the minute DNA present on the pipe. A method that is only used in critical situations is known as hand entry, which involves defusing the pipe bomb via access to the interior. In this study, analysed the effectiveness of collecting DNA from the surface of pipe bombs after different construction and defusing methods. The degradative effects of numerous fuel types on DNA was also analysed. The results indicated that all areas of a pipe bomb are suitable for targeting when attempting to collect DNA. It was also found that fuel does not have a significant effect on DNA, with limited degradation occurring. This information can be applied to the methods that Victoria Police conduct. Opening the options for DNA collection when it comes to pipe bombs, and in cases where Molotov Cocktails fail to ignite.



69 p.

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Degree type


Degree name

B. Forensic Science (Hons)

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All rights reserved


A Durdle


Faculty of Science


Engineering and Built Environment

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