A pair of identical twins have appeared in court charged over the rape of a woman as prosecutors cannot tell them apart.
Mohammed and Aftab Asghar were arrested after DNA evidence taken from the scene linked the alleged crime with one – or both – of them.
Prosecutors have charged both of the two lookalike siblings as they are unable to tell which one of them is the supposed sex attacker as even their DNA is the same.
Police officers and Crown Prosecution Service were continuing their investigation to try to determine whether they should continue to pursue the case against both men.
The pair, aged 22 years, were expected to enter pleas when they appeared alongside each other in the dock at Reading Crown Court, Berkshire.
However, prosecutor Sandra Beck requested more time for the Crown to pursue particular lines of enquiry. She said: ‘It is an unusual case. ‘They are identical twins. The allegation is one of rape.
‘There is further work due and there is an indication which would tend to support that one was not at the location. ‘It may mean that only one of the defendants faces trial.’
No details were divulged about the circumstances of the alleged offence, which is alleged to have occured on November 5, 2011. She confirmed a trial date had already been set for the pair for December 2.
Mr Recorder Laurence West QC, hearing the case, said told the defendants: ‘This matter is listed for trial on December 2. ‘I am going to continue your bail. The conditions are exactly the same as before.’
He ordered them to continue living and sleeping at their address in Reading, Berkshire, to report to Reading Police Station three times a week, not to contact the complainant and not to go to a particular village in Berkshire.
Although identical twins share the same DNA – essentially carbon copies of each other – scientists discovered new evidence that tiny genetic changes can occur on a cellular level early in development, allowing for differences as twins grow older.
The genetic alterations can occur early in foetal development, researchers said, and are essentially copy errors — otherwise known as somatic mutations.
The findings, presented in November at the American Society of Human Genetics in San Francisco, California, may offer a glimpse into why one identical twin will develop a disease like cancer, while the other will stay healthy, according to LiveScience.com.
Previous studies have explored genetic differences between twins caused by chemical modifications, also known as epigenetic effects. But nobody knows how often such mutations occur.