PETER SMITH TRIAL: Finger print evidence found at Hilda Owen’s house is disputed

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EXPERTS from London’s Metropolitan Police have disputed fingerprint evidence discovered at the home of murdered Skegby pensioner Hilda Owen.

Jurors at Nottingham Crown Court were told that although some of the prints found on a door handle shared similarities with those of Peter Kenneth Smith, experts could not conclude that they belonged to him.

This was because of ‘unexplained differences’ between the mark found on the handle in blood and a sample of Smith’s fingerprint.

Smith (48) denies battering 71-year-old Hilda to death in her West Hill home in early 2007.

When fingerprint expert Alan Gore gave evidence earlier in the trial, Paul Mann QC, defending Smith, had said that his identification of Smith relied on a ‘double touch theory’.

But experts from the Metropolitan police have disputed this.

Giving evidence on Friday, Lisa Hall, a finger print expert from the Metropolitan Police, said: “You would be able to distinguish between the prints because of the blood being pushed out.

“It would look like there had been another touch because of the blood. The blood distribution is not consistent with a double touch.”

Miss Hall headed up a panel of other finger print experts which found differences between the print on the door handle and Smith’s sample print.

She told the court: “Because of the discrepancies the conclusion of the panel was that we couldn’t establish any of the areas as originating from Peter Kenneth Smith.”

The finger prints of Callum Adams, Smith’s former partner and a convicted killer, were also examined.

Added Miss Hall: “We cannot exclude Mr Callum Adams from making those prints but we would never establish that as identification.”

But Peter Joyce QC, prosecuting, said that the panel’s view was the ‘lowest common denominator’ because it only takes into account what the experts agree on and not what they don’t.

Miss Hall replied: “It is because it is what all the panel can agree on so we can get an opinion from a group of experts and not an individual.”

The prosecution say that Smith, who worked for the Department of Work and Pensions, murdered Hilda so he could benefit from her will and pay his own debts.

Miss Hall will continue giving evidence when the trial continues on Wednesday.