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Victims of the State

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Date of Alleged Crime


England Perry Family Aug 16, 1660

William Harrison, the manager of a wealthy estate, went out to collect rent money from tenants.  When he did not return at his usual time, his servant, John Perry, was sent to look for him.  Harrison's hat and comb were found and had been slashed.  Harrison's collar band was also found with bloodstains.  Harrison was presumed murdered and searches were made for his body, but it was never found.

For unknown reasons, John Perry confessed to the murder of Harrison and implicated his brother and mother.  Perry later retracted his confession and his brother and mother professed their innocence, but all were convicted of the murder and hanged.  Two years after the executions, Harrison turned up alive.  He told a story of having been kidnapped and held as a slave in Turkey.  (CWP) (CW) (FJDB)  [12/06]


England William Habron Aug 1, 1876 (Whaley Range)

William Habron was convicted of the murder of Constable Cock, a local lawman.  Habron was a patron of the Royal Oak, a pub near Manchester that was on the constable's beat.  Habron was frequently getting into fights with other patrons, which Cock had to break up.  After one fight Cock threatened to arrest Habron the next time he got into a fight.  Habron replied, “It'll be a sorry day for you, the day you arrest me.”  The next time Cock passed the pub and heard sounds of a fight, he entered without waiting to be called and saw Habron and another patron in the midst of a fight.  Cock arrested Habron.  However, Habron had actually been on his best behavior.  The other patron had interpreted Habron's behavior as a sign of weakness and, inspired by liquor, decided that it was a good time to pick a fight.

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England Adolph Beck 1895

Adolph Beck was convicted in 1896 of individually defrauding ten women out their jewelry, mostly rings, using the same confidence scheme.  The swindler had posed as the Earl of Wilton and claimed to have a home in St. John's Wood.  Beck was identified by all ten women.  In addition he was identified as John Smith, a man who had been convicted of perpetrating a identical confidence scheme in 1877.  At trial Beck's defence wanted to cross-examine the crown's handwriting expert to established that documents submitted into evidence as having been in Beck's handwriting were actually in the same hand as those attributed to Smith in 1877.  In addition it wanted to present testimony that Beck had been in South America in 1877 and for several years thereafter.  However, the judge prohibited this defence.  Legal rules prohibited the crown from mentioning a prior conviction, so the judge apparently felt the defence should be prohibited as well.

Evidence later surfaced that Smith had been examined by a prison doctor in 1879, who stated in his report that Smith had undergone circumcision.  Beck was examined and found to be uncircumcised.  The only effect of this new evidence was that Beck, who had been assigned Smith's old prison number, was given a new prison number.  Beck was released from prison in 1901.

In 1904, Beck was again arrested for defrauding women using the same confidence scheme.  He was again convicted, but his sentencing was deferred until further investigation could be made.  During this period, while stories of defrauded women were in the newspapers, a pawnshop owner called police about a man pawning rings in his shop.  The man said his name was William Thomas and that he was innocent of any wrongdoing.  However, he was identified by several swindled women who also identified rings in his possession as their property.  Following Thomas's conviction, he admitted that he was John Smith and that he was responsible for the frauds for which Beck had twice been convicted.  Beck was soon pardoned and Parliament awarded him £5,000 for his wrongful imprisonment.  (CTI)  [6/08]


England Luton Three Sept 10, 1969 (Luton)

David Cooper, Michael McMahon, and Patrick Murphy  were convicted of murdering a Luton, England post office clerk during an attempted robbery of the post office.  An unusually large amount of money was being held in the post office overnight.  The victim, Reginald Stevens, a sub-postmaster, had locked up the post office and was shot to death in a nearby parking lot (car park) after he refused to hand over his keys.

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England Pinfold & MacKenney Nov 1974 (Dagenham, Essex)

Terry Pinfold and Harry MacKenney were convicted of murder based on the testimony of a sole witness.  This witness testified the pair murdered a man, but this man was later known to be alive three years after his alleged slaying.

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England (Winchester CC) Sean Hodgson Dec 1979 (Southampton)
Robert Graham “Sean” Hodgson was convicted of the murder of Teresa de Simone, 22.  De Simone's partially clothed body had been found in the back of her Ford Escort outside the Tom Tackle pub in Southampton where she worked part-time as a barmaid.  She had been strangled with her own gold chain.  Twelve months later, Hodgson, who had been in the area at the time, confessed committing the murder to a prison chaplain, prison warders, and police while serving a jail sentence for a separate crime.  Four other people had also confessed to the crime, but their confessions were discounted by detectives.  Hodgson later pleaded not guilty on the grounds he was a pathological liar.  Material recovered at the scene belonged to a man of blood group A or AB.  Hodgson shared this group, although so did about one-third of the male population.  However, in 2009, DNA tests of semen recovered from the scene showed that it did not belong to Hodgson and his conviction was quashed.  He was released after serving 27 years of imprisonment and believed to be the victim of Britain's “longest miscarriage of justice.”  (Telegraph)  [3/09]


England (London CC) Roy Burnett 1985

Roy Burnett was convicted of raping a 20-year-old student nurse.  The alleged victim said Burnett had followed her home from a bus, dragged her into the woods and threatened her with a knife before raping her.  Burnett was jailed for life and his applications for parole were consistently denied because he refused to admit guilt.  In 1998 the same woman made another rape complaint, but gave inconsistent accounts of being attacked by two men in a car.  The complaint damaged the woman's credibility and caused police to re-examine her previous complaint against Burnett.

A re-examination of evidence against Burnett revealed many inconsistencies in the woman's accounts. Scratch marks on her body, shown in photographs taken of her at the time, were, according to fresh expert testimony, “typical of self-inflicted injury.”  A judge later added that the absence of other injuries, which would have been expected if she had been attacked in the way she claimed, was “surprising to the point of incredulity.”  The woman's current boyfriend, with whom she has just had a child, described her as “attention seeking.”  Burnett was released from jail after being cleared by the Court of Appeal.  Scotland Yard is considering whether to file perjury charges against the woman.  (Innocent)  [9/08]


England (Chelmsford CC)

Jeremy Bamber

Aug 7, 1985

Jeremy Bamber, 25, was convicted of the shooting murders of his father, Ralph Nevill Bamber, 61, his mother, June Bamber, 61, his sister, Sheila Caffell, 27, and his twin nephews, Daniel and Nicholas Caffell, both 6.  Jeremy was adopted by his parents as was his unrelated sister.  The killings occurred at White House Farm in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex.  At 3:36 a.m. on August 7, 1985, Jeremy called the police from his cottage in Goldhanger, 3 1/2 miles away, to tell them that Nevill had phoned him and said that Sheila, a paranoid schizophrenic, had “gone crazy” and had got a gun.  Sheila was known to have considered ending her life and expressed an intention to kill her sons.  After calling police, Jeremy drove to White House Farm and met up with officers who were already there.  Police staked out the farmhouse for several hours before entering it at 7:34 a.m. where they found five people shot to death.  Sheila was found shot twice under the chin with a rifle in her hand.  Police initially thought Sheila had committed the murders before turning the gun on herself.

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England (Stafford CC)

Roger Beardmore 1991-1993
Roger Beardmore was convicted in 1998 of pedophile rape after being accused by an 11-year-old girl.  At the time of the alleged offense, Beardmore was living at a farmhouse 15 miles from Stoke-on-Trent.  The girl told her mother that between the ages of three and six she had been raped and interfered with when visiting Beardmore's farm.  Three years later the girl admitted that she made the whole thing up to gain the attention of her mother.  She said, “I have put a man in prison for no reason.”  The girl now says she never wants to see her mother again.  She expressed the wish to right a wrong which had been keeping her awake, crying at night.  Following the girl's admission, Beardmore's conviction was quashed and he was released from prison.  (Innocent)  [10/08]


England (Manchester CC) Kevin Callan Apr 15, 1991
“Kevin Callan was wrongly convicted of murder in 1991 of shaking to death his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter, Amanda Allman, based on the testimony of two prosecution experts. ... Callan was sentenced to life in prison.  He became an expert in neurology and his knowledge helped prove that his daughter, who had cerebral palsy, died from the after-effects of brain damage caused by an earlier fall. ... Callan spent four years prison before the Court of Appeal overturned his conviction on April 6, 1995, based on the new medical evidence about the girl's cause of death.  The charges were dismissed and Callan was released.  Callan wrote a [1997] book about his experience [entitled Kevin Callan's Story.]  .... Callan died [in] 2003 at the age of 45.  Callan's sister and supporter during his ordeal, Janice Davies, helped to set-up the organisation ‘Innocent,’ to support Kevin and other wrongly convicted prisoners and their families in the United Kingdom.  ‘Innocent's’ website is, http://www.innocent.org.uk” – FJDB  (Innocent)


England (Hove CC) Sheila Bowler May 13, 1992 (East Sussex)

Sheila Bowler was convicted of murdering her late husband's 89-year-old aunt, Florence Jackson.  While Bowler was driving Jackson one night, a tire on her car became deflated and Bowler stopped on Route A259 near Station Road in Winchelsea.  She left Jackson in the car and went to seek help.  She knocked on the door of a residence and met a Mr. Soan, who she vaguely knew, and used his telephone to call for roadside assistance.  When she came back to her car with Mr. and Mrs. Soan, Jackson was missing.  In the search for Jackson that followed, Bowler told others not to look far away, as she did not think Jackson was mobile enough to have wandered very far.  Jackson's body was found the next day 600 yards away in the River Brede.  She had drowned.

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England (Birmingham CC) Julie Ferris 1993, 1998
“Julie Ferris was wrongly convicted in June 2000 of smothering two of her children.  [The first child, Hayley, died at nine months in 1993 and initially was thought to have been a cot-death victim.  When the second child, Brandon, died five years later, aged eight months, Ferris was arrested.]  The prosecution relied on the ... testimony of discredited expert witness Sir Roy Meadows – the same expert whose erroneous testimony contributed to the wrongful convictions of Sally Clark and Angela Cannings.  [Ferris's] conviction was reversed in May 2003 and she was released on bail pending a retrial, which was scheduled for November 2004. On August 6, 2004 the prosecution announced it was dropping all charges against Julie Ferris.” – FJDB  (Times)


England (Stafford CC) Ryan James Jan 13, 1994

Ryan James was convicted of the murder of his 39-year-old wife, Sandra James.  Sandra died from drinking a glass of orange juice that contained a fatal dose of immobilon, a horse tranquilizer.  Ryan, a veterinarian, had access to the drug.  He also been having an affair with another woman, Catherine Crooks.  The lovers had left their spouses to live together, but the cost of running two homes drove Ryan back to his wife.

Sandra's death would have allowed Ryan to start a new life with Catherine on the proceeds of a £180,000 life insurance policy.  Besides these proceeds, £143,000 in debts were wiped out by Sandra's death.  At trial, Ryan's defense argued that Sandra had committed suicide, but made it look like murder.  However, the crown argued that it was murder made to look like a suicide.  Ryan was sentenced to life in prison.  His trial judge, Justice Anthony Hidden, told him he was “the most evil, selfish, and criminally callous man” he had ever sentenced.

While in prison Ryan married Catherine, who never believed he killed his wife.  While going through her new husband's belongings, Catherine found a handwritten note stuffed inside one of Ryan's professional journals.  It was in Sandra's handwriting and said, “Ryan, I leave you absolutely nothing but this note – if you find it in time, Sam.”  Sam was Sandra's pet name.  Because the note indicated suicidal intent, Ryan's conviction was quashed in 1998 and he was released from prison.  There was some additional evidence that Sandra was depressed.  She had taken anti-depressants in the 1970s.  At the time of Sandra's death there were puncture wounds in her foot.  It was alleged that she had experimented with the immobilon drug by injecting it into her foot, then injecting herself with the antidote shortly thereafter.  (Innocent)  [10/08]


England (Leeds CC) Mark Dallagher May 7, 1996

Mark Dallagher was convicted of the murder of 94-year-old Dorothy Wood.  Wood was found dead at her home on Whitby Avenue in Huddersfield.  She had been smothered with a pillow.  A burglar had entered the home through a transom window above her bed.  Wood was profoundly deaf and slept downstairs because of a heart condition.

Ear prints were found on the glass immediately below the transom.  West Yorkshire police sent these prints along with prints of Dallagher's ears to Cornelis Van der Lugt, an alleged ear print expert.  Police suspected Dallagher might be the culprit because he was a small-time burglar who lived in the area.  Van der Lugt was Dutch police officer for 27 years and a lecturer at the Dutch Police College.  He had no formal qualifications, but he had become interested in ear print identification and read what was available on that topic.  He had built up a portfolio of about 600 photographs and 300 ear prints.

At trial, Van der Lugt testified that he was “absolutely convinced that the prints of [Dallagher's] left ear were identical with the prints of the left ear on the window.”  Another Crown expert, Peter Vanezis, considered Van der Lugt to be the ear print expert in the world, and testified that “it was very likely that it was this defendant who made those prints,” although he could not be one hundred percent certain.  Vanezis was Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine and Science at the University of Glasgow.

Following Dallagher's conviction, two other criminal convictions that relied on ear print evidence were overturned, one in the U.S. (David Kunze), and another in the Netherlands.  Both relied on Van der Lugt's testimony.  In 2002, an appeals court also overturned Dallagher's conviction because it found fault with the manner in which the experts expressed their opinion of Dallagher's guilt.  Following the reversal, an initial report given by Van der Lugt surfaced in which he stated that the ear prints found on Wood's window were definitely not those of Dallagher.  The words “definitely not” were underlined twice.

A retrial for Dallagher began in 2003, but it was halted after 10 days as the prosecution sought to gather additional evidence.  However, additional evidence was not forthcoming and DNA tests of the ear prints showed they did not belong to Dallagher.  As a result, charges against Dallagher were dropped in 2004.  He was released from imprisonment after serving seven years of a life sentence.  (Innocent) (Forensic-Evidence)  [11/09]


England (Winchester CC) Sally Clark Dec 1996, Jan 1998

“Sally Clark was wrongly convicted of killing two of her young children 13 months apart.  Her conviction was based on the testimony of a medical ‘expert’ that it is virtually impossible that two babies in one family would die of natural causes, and on the perjured testimony of the government's forensic scientist that she smothered the children.  The first baby, Christopher, died at 11 weeks of age in Dec. 1996, and the second child, Harry, died at 8 weeks of age in Jan. 1998.”

“In 2002 it was discovered that the prosecution concealed a medical report that indicated there is identifiable physical evidence the second child died of natural causes, and it was the concealment of that report that led to the death of the first child being changed from natural causes to smothering, and the death of the second child being attributed first to shaking, and then to smothering.  It was learned by Sally Clark's husband, Stephen, after the trial that at least 50 families in the UK every year suffer the death of a second child after the previous death of a child, and Manchester University researchers discovered in 2001 that there is a ‘crib death’ gene (SIDS).  A common denominator in both of the deaths is they both occurred shortly after the babies received vaccinations.”

“Clark's convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeals on January 29, 2003 ... Clark died of an apparent heart attack [in] 2007, at the age of 42.” – FJDB


England (Sheffield CC) Shaun Booker June 19, 1999

Shaun Booker was convicted of manslaughter for beating 57-year-old Michael Marples to death in a Sheffield parking lot.  Booker was convicted because the prosecution claimed that blood found on his clothes splattered on him during the assault.  Booker claimed the blood got on him when he found Marples after the assault and tried to revive him.  Booker's trial jury acquitted him of murder but convicted him of manslaughter.  In February 2006 at the request of the Crown, an appeals court quashed Booker's conviction based on new evidence which it said “casts very great doubt on the correctness of the appellant having been the assailant.”  However, the court refused to reveal what the new evidence was, stating, “We are satisfied...that the nature of the evidence is such it cannot be disclosed without causing serious damage to the public interest.”  (Innocent)  [12/10]


England (Lewes CC) David Carrington-Jones 2000
“David Carrington-Jones was wrongly convicted in December 2000 of raping twin sisters [K. J. and L. J.] based solely on the accusation of one of the sisters.  Carrington-Jones was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.  After his conviction the girl [K. J.] falsely accused her brother, step-father, fiancée, a boyfriend and even a customer at work of rape.  Carrington-Jones denied raping the girls so he was denied parole in December 2005 and again in December 2006.  In August 2007 he was released on bail while his appeal based on the new evidence that his accuser had made multiple false rape allegations was being considered.  In October 2007 his conviction was quashed as ‘demonstrably unsafe’ by the Court of Appeals, since the new evidence undermined the credibility of the accuser.  Carrington-Jones was released after 6 years and 8 months of wrongful imprisonment.” – FJDB  (Argus)


England (Worcester CC) Sirfraze Ahmed Apr 2004

Sirfraze Ahmed was convicted of robbery.  Three masked men stole more than £30,000 from Neil Bateman outside his home in Bodenham, England.  Bateman had organized a classic car show in Derbyshire that weekend.  In Feb. 2006 two brothers, Khalid and Mohammed Khan, pled guilty to the robbery.  The two denied being at the scene of the robbery, but admitted supplying items used in the robbery.  Although the brothers did not implicate Ahmed, he was also charged in the robbery.  Four of his fingerprints were found on a black plastic bag left at the crime scene after it had been worn as a mask by one of the robbers.

At his Oct. 2006 trial, Ahmed testified he was almost 50 miles away in Birmingham.  Several witnesses corroborated Ahmed's alibi. He said he knew the Khan brothers, and had helped Khalid fix cars at the house the brothers shared.  Ahmed said that they would put plastic bags on the seat of a car to prevent oil stains, and that is how his fingerprints could have gotten on the bag found at the crime scene.  In June 2007 the Court of Appeals quashed his conviction on the basis there was insufficient evidence that he was involved in the robbery.  (Hereford Times) (Hereford Times #2)  [9/08]


England (Luton CC) Nico Bento Dec 13, 2005 (Bedford)

Amilton Nicolas Bento (aka Nico), a Portuguese immigrant, was convicted of the murder of his 26-year-old Polish girlfriend, Kamila Garsztka.  The alleged crime occurred in Bedford, England in or near the River Great Ouse.  A CCTV security camera caught Garsztka walking alone on the embankment of the river toward Priory Lake which adjoined the river.  Garsztka's coat, scarf, and shoes were found by the river bank about an hour later.  Bento reported Garsztka missing and pestered police to step up their search for her and keep him informed.  He told police Garsztka had left her handbag in his apartment, which police later retrieved.  Seven weeks after she went missing, canoeists found her body floating in Priory Lake.

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England (Teesside CC) Richard Alan Watkins Dec 2007
“Richard Alan Watkins was wrongly convicted on July 2, 2010, of raping a 17-year-old boy during a Christmas party in December 2007.  [Watkins' co-defendant, Kevin David Moore,] was acquitted of committing the rape, while the jury convicted Watkins of having ‘aided and abetted’ him as part of a ‘joint enterprise.’  [Moore's defense] was the sex was consensual and the jury agreed.  The trial judge granted Watkins bail while appealing his conviction.  In September 2010 Watkins' conviction was quashed on the basis that the there was no ‘sensible explanation’ for how the jury could have [convicted] him of aiding and abetting a rape that never happened.  Because he was granted bail after his conviction, Watkins didn't serve any time in jail.” – FJDB


Wales (Cardiff CC) Cardiff Three Feb 14, 1988

“Yusef Abdullahi, Tony Paris, and Stephen Miller [were dubbed by the media as] the Cardiff Three.  Twenty-year-old prostitute Lynette White was murdered on Valentine's Day in 1988 by being stabbed more than 50 times.  Stephen Miller was the boyfriend and pimp of Ms. White.  Miller was coerced into falsely confessing to the murder of Ms. White after 13 continuous hours of being shouted at and threatened by police interrogators.  His false confession implicated his two codefendants who were likewise innocent.  Once he confessed, the police stopped investigating promising leads that may have led to the killer.  The three men were convicted in 1990 and sentence to life in prison.  The convictions of all three codefendants were quashed by England's Court of Appeal in 1992 and they were released after 4 years in custody.”

“Six years after their release journalist Satish Sekar, who had aided in the release of the men, published a book about the case -- ‘Fitted In - The Cardiff Three and the Lynette White Inquiry.’  As a result of the information in the book Ms. White's murder case was re-opened in June 1999.  In 2003 DNA testing of crime scene evidence identified Jeffrey Gafoor [as] Ms. White's murderer.  Gafoor was one of Ms. White's clients.  He pled guilty to her murder in 2003 and was sentenced to life in prison.  In December 2008 three witnesses who gave false evidence at the trial of the Cardiff Three were jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to perjury.  In March 2009 two more witnesses at the trial were charged with perjury, and 13 police officers involved in the original investigation of the murder were charged with perverting the course of justice for their actions that amounted to framing the three innocent men for the crime.” – FJDB  (Innocent)


Wales (Shrewsbury CC) Eddie Browning June 18, 1988

Edward Owen Browning was convicted of the murder of Marie Wilks, a 22-year-old who was seven months pregnant.  Wilks' car had broken down on the eastbound M50 carriageway near Bushley, Hereford and Worcester.  She had used an emergency phone on the side of the road to summon help but was abducted and stabbed shortly thereafter.  The phone was left dangling from its cord and blood was found nearby.  Two days later her body was found three miles away down an embankment on the eastbound carriageway.  Her throat had been cut.  She also had a broken jaw from being hit or kicked on the left side of her head.

Browning was identified as the perpetrator by witnesses after a composite sketch was made.  In 1994, Browning was released from jail after an appeals court found that his conviction was unsafe.  Judges ruled that the jurors might have changed their mind if they had known of police evidence about the murderer's car that was not disclosed at the trial.

Peter Clarke, an off-duty West Mercia officer, was filmed four days before Browning's arrest. He described the murderer's car as a silver-grey nonmetallic non-hatchback Renault car, with chrome bumpers and the registration number C856 HFK.  Browning's car was a hatchback Renault, with plastic bumpers, and the registration number C754 VAD.  Police had also failed to disclose two earlier statements from Clarke as well as one by another witness.  These statements described what the witnesses saw on the M50.  Browning was later awarded an undisclosed sum, believed to be in excess of £600,000.  (BBC) (Timeline)  [9/08]


Scotland Oscar Slater Dec 21, 1908 (Glasgow)

Oscar Slater was sentenced to death for the murder of Marion Gilchrist, an 82-year-old wealthy spinster.  Gilchrist was found bludgeoned to death in her Glasgow home.  Three witnesses saw a man exit Gilchrist's home and walk quickly by them immediately before one of them found her murdered body.  The only thing missing from Gilchrist's home was her diamond brooch.

Police soon got a tip from a man who said Slater had tried to sell him a pawn ticket for a diamond brooch.  They also found that Slater had a checkered past. While he had no criminal record, he used assumed names to escape from creditors.  When police went to look for Slater they found that he and his mistress had left Glasgow by train, bound for Liverpool, where on Dec. 26, the couple sailed on the Lusitania, under an assumed name, bound for New York.  Police were sure that Slater was Gilchrist's murderer because not only did he pawn a diamond brooch, but he exhibited evidence of guilt by secretly fleeing to the United States.

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Scotland Stuart Gair Apr 11, 1989 (Glasgow)
Stuart Gair was convicted by a majority verdict of the murder of 45-year-old Peter Smith.  Smith was the victim of a knife attack on North Court Lane in the Glasgow city center.  He later died from his injuries.  During trial, a witness, Brian Morrison, identified Gair and a co-defendant, now apparently deceased, as the perpetrators.  However, the prosecution withheld from the defense four statements that Morrison gave which undermined his credibility.  On appeal in 2006, the senior judge said that the “statements showed that Morrison was prepared to tell lies, to fantasise, and to change his account when it suited him.”  Morrison told the appeals court, “All the details I gave were given to me. I saw nothing at all.”  Gair's conviction was subsequently quashed.  (The Herald)


Scotland Asbury & McKie Jan 8, 1997 (Kilmarnock)

David Asbury was convicted of murdering 51-year-old Marion Ross and stealing a biscuit tin from her containing £1800.  The victim's ribs were crushed and she was stabbed in the eye with scissors.  The scissors were left embedded in her throat.  There were no signs of forced entry, but police discovered that some builders, including Asbury, had had access to her home the previous year.  During a search of Asbury's apartment, Detective Shirley McKie found a biscuit tin in his bedroom containing £1800.  Asbury maintained the tin and the money were his.  However the Scottish Fingerprint Service, a division of the Scottish Criminal Records Office (SCRO), found Ross's fingerprint on it.  Since the tin provided a possible motive of theft for the murder, police believed the tin had belonged to the victim.  At Asbury's trial for murder, expert witnesses from the SCRO testified that a fingerprint found on the tin was that of Ross.

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