Criminal Law Evidence Example

1685 words (7 pages) Essay

19th Sep 2017 Law Reference this

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Please read carefully the scenario below and then complete the work for this assessment.

A burglary has occurred around 21:00 hours yesterday at an office complex on an industrial estate. It has open entry round to the rear of the building. A metal top opening window was forced open and the intruder(s) gained entry, once inside, the building alarm system was activated. The offender made a tidy search of the office desks and drawers and it is suspected that 2 laptops and one PDA were stolen. The exit from the property was as entry. An eye witness states they saw a red coloured car leave the industrial estate at high speed, the make and model is unknown. Approximately 4 miles away from the scene on a park that borders the edge of a large housing estate was a stolen abandoned vehicle, its engine still running. The vehicle is a red ford focus reported stolen 1 hour previously from a private drive outside the home of Mr Andrews. The vehicle has been taken to a recovery garage pending a scenes of crime visit. CCTV on the park installed for anti-social behaviour has been viewed by Police Community Support Officers and they believe the individual running from the car is Michael Steven Kelter born 23/02/1987. Michael has previous convictions for burglary and anti-social behaviour related offences. He is also a known drug user. Uniformed Police Officers have arrested Michael Kelter on suspicion of burglary at the industrial estate and also for the taking of a vehicle without the owners consent. He is now detained at a dedicated custody suite pending interview with detectives. Attending police officers have found a screwdriver in shrubs outside the office complex, the screwdriver has been recovered and booked into the property store at the local police station. Officers also arranged for boarding up to secure the premises. It has also been reported that a male in his early 20’s 3 days previously stated that he represented the alarm company and needed to have a look at the system. He presented no identification at the receptionist and was subsequently turned away. CCTV footage has since been overwritten as it is on a 24hr loop. It is not known whether this is connected to the burglary. Assessment: Please devise an illustrative presentation of the potential evidence types available at each scene and identify the links between each scene. You will need to cite references to support your answer.

Literature Supporting the Potential of Forensic Evidence.

NAPIER, T.J., 2002. Scene linking using footwear mark databases. Science and Justice – Journal of the Forensic Science Society, 42(1), pp. 39-43. Brief description of reference. BIERMANN, T.W., 2007. Blocks of colour IV: The evidential value of blue and red cotton fibres. Science & Justice, 47(2), pp. 68-87. Brief description of reference. LOWRIE, C.N. and JACKSON, G., 1994. Secondary transfer of fibres. Forensic Science International, 64(2-3), pp. 73-82. Brief description of reference.

Locard’s Principle

According to Locard 1910 ‘Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as a silent witness against him. Not only his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothes, the glass he breaks, the tool mark he leaves, the paint he scratches, the blood or semen he deposits or collects. All of these and more, bear mute witness against him. This is evidence that does not forget. It is not confused by the excitement of the moment. It is not absent because human witnesses are. It is factual evidence. Physical evidence cannot be wrong, it cannot perjure itself, it cannot be wholly absent. Only human failure to find it, study and understand it, can diminish its value.’ (Joe Nickell and John E. Fischer, Crime Science: Methods of Forensic Detection. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1999. 10).

Fingerprints often feature significantly at the scene of the burglary, within the stolen vehicle and on any property recovered from the burglary including the screwdriver that was discovered at the point where the stolen vehicle was recovered from. (FSS 2000, Supporting ‘Pathfinder’, Information on FSS and Police Fingerprint Process, Forensic Science Service). One of the leading figures in the development of fingerprint analysis was Sir Francis Galton who developed the tripartite classification scheme which sorts fingerprints into three groups and was used primarily to establish the heredity and character of the individual (Simon A. Cole Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification (Harvard University Press, 2001), pp. 60-96.) Garton himself published a book entitled Fingerprints in 1892 in which he studied the frequency in which the patterns appeared in relation to the race of the supplier of the print. Unfortunately his results did not meet his expectations that there would be a significant pattern for a significant race. The use of the fingerprint database for the storing of fingerprints taken from convicted offenders is invaluable in identifying perpetrators of future crimes (Anthonioz, A., A. Aguzzi, A. Girod, N. Egli, and O. Ribaux, Potential Use of Fingerprint in Forensic Intelligence: Crime Scene Linking. Z Zagadnien Nauk Sadowych – Problems of Forensic Sciences, 2003. 51: 166-170.)

Footwear marks are often a useful source of identification. It is possible to identify the wearer of the shoe from the footmarks by the way in which the patterning has worn. Although retailers sell many of the same item of footwear the wear marks on the shoes differs between users and therefore it can be very easy to get an exact match from the recovery of the suspects footwear to the recovered print. Some experts have stated that shoemarks and geographical information can assist in linking a suspect to a particular crime (Napier, T.J., 2002. Scene linking using footwear mark databases. Science and Justice – Journal of the Forensic Science Society, 42(1), pp. 39-43). According to Jim Fraser who is the director of the centre for forensic science as the University of Strathclyde footwear marks were found at about 40% of crime scenes. He commented that most are not clean boot marks and usually need enhancing with UV light and that such prints can even be recovered from a carpet or a dead body (James Randerson, Footprint database to help fight crime, The Guardian, Tuesday January 30 2007).

Items such a glass can be transferred to a suspect either through primary transfer or secondary transfer. Primary transfer usually occurs when the suspect is breaking a window which causes backward fragmentation (J. Locke and J.A. Unikowski, Breaking of flat glass—part 1: Size and distribution of particles from plain glass windows. Forensic Sci. Int. 51 (1991), pp. 251–262). Secondary transfer is where the glass transfers form one person to another or form one object to another person (Lowrie, C.N. and Jackson, G., 1994. Secondary transfer of fibres. Forensic Science International, 64(2-3), pp. 73-82. )

Research has shown that approximately 10% of glass fragments can be transferred from the person who broke the glass to another person (G.A. Holcroft, B. Shearer, Personnel communication). Others discovered that the transfer of glass between two people in a car only resulted in one such transfer in the 15 experiments that were conducted (.J. Allen, K. Hoefler and S.J. Rose, The transfer of glass—part 3: The transfer of glass from a contaminated person to another uncontaminated person during a ride in a car. Forensic Sci. Int. 93 (1998), pp. 195–200.)

Certain types of clothing are more likely to allow such a transfer than others. clothes made from 100% nylon such as shell suits have a low retention level whereas jumper made of acrylic would have a medium retention level (T.J. Allen, K. Hoefler and S.J. Rose, The transfer of glass—part 2: A study of the transfer of glass to a person during various activities. Forensic Sci. Int. 93 (1998), pp. 175–193).

Raman developed the notion of spectroscopy which focussed on the transfer of fibres that had been chemically dyed. The most common colours used in the manufacture of clothing are black, blue and red and therefore it can be difficult for the forensic scientist to differentiate the evidential sample from the suspect source (R. Palmer and S. Oliver, Sci. Justice, 2004, 44(2), 83–88.)

In recent times the use of CCTV footage has been increased significantly with local authorities making use of the technology in the city centres to monitor the behaviour of people. This has proven particularly useful with regard to the monitoring of the behaviour of people when they have been drinking. CCTV footage can be of limited usage in that the images are not always sufficiently clear. There has also been much criticism of the fact that cameras are often pointing the wrong way or do not cover the locality of the offence. Images from CCTV can be enhanced to aid identification and often a suspect will enter a guilty plea having been shown the footage, especially if they are clearly identified by the cameras.

As can be seen from the above there are many items that can be gleaned from the actual scene of the offence as well as from other areas that the suspect might have been present at. The notion of secondary transfer could weaken a case against a suspect, however the prevalence of secondary transfer is very low and therefore offers little in the way of protection for the suspect.

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