Wednesday, 31 October 2012

"Hidden fingerprint" machine used by defence in run-up to Megrahi appeal

[The following are excerpts from an article published today on the Police Oracle website:]

An invention developed by Northamptonshire Police, and used in the Lockerbie bomber case, is sold abroad for the first time – yielding funds for the force.

A pioneering forensics machine which was developed by a police force in the UK to reveal hidden fingerprints on metal has sold for the first time abroad – earning thousands of pounds for the police authority.

Northamptonshire Police Authority has confirmed it made “several thousand pounds” in royalties from the sale of a Cartridge Electrostatic Recovery and Analysis (CERA) unit in the United States recently.

The machine was created by Dr John Bond ... the former Scientific Support Manager at the force – and patented by Northamptonshire Police Authority which granted a licence to Consolite Forensics to manufacture and sell it worldwide.

It uses the technique pioneered by Dr Bond of fingerprint visualisation on metal – allowing previously undiscovered fingerprints, especially on gun shell casings, to be revealed. (...)

The technique works by applying a large electrical voltage to the metal concerned before a fine powder, of a similar density to that found in photocopiers, is applied. The powder is applied to the metal through ceramic beads, which are coated in it. The powder then reacts with the corrosion on the metal left over from the fingerprints – even after they have been wiped off – revealing the original fingerprint pattern.

CERA was created in 2008 and Dr Bond was later called by the defence of the Lockerbie Bomber, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, to examine pieces of evidence in relation to the case.

He told “When I was with the police we were contacted by the defence.

“When there was talk of being an appeal we were asked to examine the evidence and there was one piece of evidence that looked promising – but then the Scottish Government went and released him.”

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