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Friday, 22 November, 2002, 17:40 GMT
'Fingerprint burglar' granted appeal
Alan McNamara
Mr McNamara was jailed for 30 months in 2001
A businessman who claims he was wrongly convicted of burglary on suspect fingerprint evidence has been granted leave to appeal.

Alan McNamara, 40, of Bromley Cross, Bolton, Greater Manchester, was jailed for 30 months at Manchester Crown Court in June 2001.

The trial was told his thumbprint was found on a jewellery box at the burgled Rochdale home.

But he believes his print was actually found on a vase or other item which was bought from his discount shop.


I'm absolutely over the moon - this means my family and I can look forward to Christmas for the first time in three years

Alan McNamara
Experts have backed his claim, saying the thumbprint has no marks consistent with being taken from a wooden jewellery box.

Instead, they believe it came from a smooth, curved surface, such as a vase which was sold at Mr McNamara's shop.

Michael Mansfield QC told the Court of Appeal in London that there was a "serious question mark" over the reliability of the evidence given by the scenes of crime officer in the original trial.

Mr Justice Curtis granted leave to appeal, saying there was an arguable case that deserved the attention of the full appeal court.

Michael Mansfield QC
Michael Mansfield QC: "Serious question marks" over the evidence

Mr McNamara, who was freed from prison for good behaviour in August, wept and hugged his family as the decision was given.

He told BBC News Online: "I'm absolutely over the moon - this means my family and I can look forward to Christmas for the first time in three years.

"I've had so much bad news in the past that I couldn't see things changing.

"But when I realised the judges were giving me leave to appeal the tears started welling up."

His case has been highlighted by the BBC's Panorama programme and backed by his Bolton North East MP David Crausby.

The appeal is likely to take place early in 2003.


Click here to go to Manchester
See also:

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