Fingerprint queried in murder case

The defence counsel in the Hilda Owen murder trial has queried the identification of a fingerprint in blood found at the victim’s home in Skegby.

Fingerprint expert Alan Gore found that the print on a door handle was left by accused Peter Smith.

But Paul Mann, for Smith, said the identification relied on Mr Gore’s ‘double touch theory’ and without that it would fail. Smith, 48, denies battering his 71-year-old next door neighbour to death. Her body was found at her home on West Hill more than five years ago, a jury at Nottingham Crown Court was told. It is alleged Smith wanted to benefit from the widow’s will to solve his financial problems.

Mr Gore, an independent expert, agreed that when he first looked at the door handle mark he felt it was too poor in quality to rule anyone in or anyone out. Mr Mann asked him: “Eleven months later you decided to look at it again? By then you had been informed by the police that Smith had been charged with murder. Presumably you were asked by the police to look at the mark again?”

Mr Gore replied: “No, it was of my own volition.” By then he had new equipment, he said. Mr Gore agreed he had previously said that in 22 years as a fingerprint expert he had never had his findings challenged, as he had in this case. The witness said he identified the handle fingerprint as Smith’s on the basis it was a double touch and believed that two other people who verified his identification thought the same. Mr Mann said it had been suggested to him that the checkers were not independent. Mr Mann added: “Anyone who challenges you is a mischief-maker?”

Mr Gore said that was not so. The trial continues.