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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
Fingerprint 'burglar' vows to clear name
Alan McNamara
Alan McNamara says he was wrongly convicted
A businessman who was jailed after his thumbprint was found at a burgled home has vowed to clear his name.

Alan McNamara maintains officers mixed up prints taken from a vase he had sold in his shop, and a wooden jewellery box when searching the house.

An independent expert has backed his claim.

Mr McNamara, 40, of Bolton, Greater Manchester, was released on Monday after spending over a year in prison for the 35,000 burglary at a house in Rochdale.


Nothing I can say can possibly describe the bitterness, anxiety and stress that my family and I have gone through

Alan McNamara

Mr McNamara's case has been highlighted by the BBC's Panorama programme as part of an investigation into the safety of fingerprint convictions.

Fingerprint experts say the texture and shape of the print meant it was not taken from the box, but had instead come from a smooth, curved surface.

Mr McNamara believes this was a vase or similar ornament sold at his Pocket Savers shop.

Former Metropolitan Police scene of crime officer Allan Bayle said: "I am in no doubt that Alan did not do this.

Good behaviour

"I'm sure the print was taken from a vase."

Mr McNamara was arrested after police matched the print with one taken from him for a minor offence he committed 18 years ago.

He was jailed at Manchester Crown Court for 30 months, but released for good behaviour on Monday.

Michael Mansfield
Michael Mansfield QC has taken up the case

He has now enlisted leading barrister Michael Mansfield QC in a bid to clear his name.

He told BBC News Online: "I am bitter beyond belief.

"Nothing I can say can possibly describe the bitterness, anxiety and stress that my family and I have gone through.

"From being a businessman with a lovely house and family - in the space of 12 hours it was completely and utterly turned upside down."

Preventing future possible miscarriages of justices is also a motivation.

'Relevant evidence'

He said: "My fight is not just for self-fulfilment. I want to fight for the general public.

"Sooner or later, someone is going to get put away for life for something they just haven't done."

A Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said a jury had found Mr McNamara guilty after being presented with the relevant evidence and it would be "inappropriate" to comment further.


Click here to go to Manchester
See also:

03 May 02 | Scotland
07 Jul 01 | Panorama
12 May 02 | Panorama
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