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Forensics breakthrough with Samantha Murphy’s iPhone

Patrick Stephenson, 22, is accused of killing Samantha Murphy.

Patrick Stephenson, 22, is accused of killing Samantha Murphy. Photos: Supplied

Fresh details have emerged about an iPhone belonging to Ballarat mum Samantha Murphy that was discovered by a muddy dam last week.

Forensic testing of the phone has revealed it is undamaged and “in near-perfect working condition”, multiple media outlets are reporting on Tuesday.

It’s hoped tech experts will be able to extract metadata from the smart phone, which would be a major advancement in the case.

Data could provide vital clues to help piece together the mum-of-three’s final movements, and ultimately the location of Murphy’s body.

The breakthrough comes as Murphy’s accused killer, Patrick Orren Stephenson, 22, has reportedly taken a major step in his defence.

News Corp reports the son of a former AFL player has enlisted one of the nation’s top legal minds to run his defence.

The Australian said Stephenson had recruited solicitor Paul Galbally from Melbourne law firm Galbally O’Bryan.

Galbally has represented high-profile clients with complex criminal cases, including the late Catholic cardinal George Pell.

Murphy, 51, was last seen leaving her home on Eureka Street, Ballarat, to go for a run in the Canadian State Forest on the morning of February 4.

Detectives from the Victoria Police missing persons squad and a range of specialist police officers mounted a fresh search last Wednesday.

The search was described as targeted and also involved the Australian Federal Police.

Samantha Murphy phone a 'game-changer'

Source: Nine Network 

Last week, Murphy’s husband revealed that some of his wife’s personal items were found during that search.

Channel Seven reports that Mick Murphy confirmed police had uncovered the missing Ballarat mum’s credit cards and driver’s licence, along with her iPhone.

Murphy said he knew instantly that the phone in a teal wallet case, found on Wednesday, belonged to his wife.

Footage from multiple media outlets showed police dogs and officers on foot trawling the rural site.

They then focused their attention on an item on the edge of the dam – a phone – with officers taking photos and carefully lifting it from the mud.

The team could be seen hugging and patting each other on the back after making the discovery.

The phone was found at a dam’s edge on a property about 11 kilometres from Ballarat. Photo: ABC screenshot

In March, police charged 22-year-old tradesman Stephenson with the murder of Murphy at Mount Clear on the day she went missing.

He will return to court in August.

Stephenson is the son of Orren Stephenson, who played 15 AFL games for Geelong and Richmond between 2012 and 2014.

Police have launched multiple searches in bushland since February as part of the investigation.

-with AAP

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