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Metal Particles: an Unusual Evidence Type?

October 01 2012

Keith Borer Consultants was instructed recently in a case involving, unusually, metal particles.  A cash machine had been cut open and a large quantity of cash stolen, but never recovered.  The defendant’s car was placed near the scene by witness evidence and upon examination, the prosecution found 4 small metal particles inside the car.  These were reported to be 'like' the particles produced by cutting open the cash machine but, unfortunately, the prosecution had not retained any particles from the machine for comparison purposes.

Our expert examined the particles and agreed they could be cutting debris but questioned how common they might be in vehicles.  The defendant in this case worked in a garage repair shop.  No background data studies exist in relation to the frequency of metal particles in vehicles and most scientists’ experience relates to the presence and persistence of such particles on clothing.  Our scientist highlighted that the particles could not be distinguished from debris generated from cutting other types of steel and so were not unique to this cash machine.

The report we produced questioned the strength of the prosecution’s perceived ‘link’ between the vehicle and the scene and the instructing solicitor commented that the work really helped understand the prosecution’s case and also weakened it considerably.  The case was eventually discontinued.

If you have a case involving metal or other particulate debris, please contact our experts Mr Alan Henderson on 0191 332 4999 or Mrs Dorothy Allan on 01480 432 794.

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