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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 09:27 GMT
'Fingerprint burglar' hopes for appeal
Alan McNamara
Mr McNamara has always maintained his innocence
A businessman who claims he was wrongly jailed for burglary on the basis of suspect forensic evidence is seeking to overturn his conviction.

If Alan McNamara, from Bolton, wins his case it could raise fresh doubts about the reliability of fingerprint science.

Experts have backed his claim that his thumbprint had most probably been found on an item at the burgled house because the item been bought from his shop.

But despite the print being the only piece of evidence linking him to the scene of the 35,000 burglary he was jailed in 2001.


I have spent over 40,000 fighting to clear my name and I am determined not to give up

Alan McNamara
He was released on good behaviour in August 2002 after serving just over one year of a 30-month sentence imposed at Manchester Crown Court.

His legal team now believe they have new evidence which will overturn his conviction and he will hear on Friday if he has been granted leave to appeal.

He told BBC News Online: "English justice has got to show it realises an innocent man when it sees one.

"Besides being a businessman and touching thousands and thousands of objects during the course of a year, I can touch objects that will end up in Australia and New Zealand.

"Now if my print was on an object in that country and there was a murder, does that mean that I murdered that person?"

Fingerprint under a microscope
The case could cast doubts on the safety of fingerprint evidence

He added: "This whole scenario has ruined my family's lives.

"I have spent over 40,000 fighting to clear my name and I am determined not to give up."

At his original trial, the prosecution claimed his print had been found on a jewellery box at the burgled home, in Rochdale.

But his defence said experts pointed to a lack of wooden texture on the print which, they said, was more consistent with a print found on a smooth, curved surface.

Mr McNamara believes this was most likely an item bought at his shop, such as a vase.

'Imperfect science'

His case, which has been featured on the BBC's Panorama programme, has now been taken up by top barrister, Michael Mansfield QC.

He has also won backing from his local MP, David Crausby, who fears the case highlights flaws in the use of fingerprint evidence.

He said: "It may well be a perfect science as far as the evidence is concerned.

"But what is not perfect is the documentation as to where that evidence has come from."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Alan McNamara
"It's been absolutely horrendous, as you can imagine"

Click here to go to Manchester
See also:

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