Belfast Telegraph

Expert who failed to match Kingsmill print 'made mistakes in other inquiries'

A fingerprint expert who twice failed to match a print linked to the Kingsmill massacre also made a series of mistakes in at least a dozen other historical inquiries, an inquest has been told.

Dennis Thompson was a fingerprint specialist for the police's Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and worked on 685 cases over the course of eight years.

It was previously revealed he failed on two separate occasions in 2010 and 2014 to link a suspect's palm print to a sample found on an alleged getaway vehicle in the 1976 Kingsmill massacre, when 10 Protestant workmen were gunned down in south Armagh.

No-one has ever been held to account for the atrocity.

After the errors in Mr Thompson's work on the Kingsmill case came to light, a review of his work was undertaken by the PSNI and officers from London's Metropolitan Police to examine their quality.

A random "dip sample" was undertaken of 70 of the 685 cases which Mr Thompson had worked on.

An inquest into the Kingsmill massacre was told on Tuesday that, as a result of the review, errors were found in 12 cases within the sample.

Belfast Coroner's Court was not told which 12 historical inquiries are affected.

Jeff Logan, head of the PSNI's fingerprint division, told the court: "There are a number of errors which have come to light but there were not errors in everything he did. We found errors in twelve of the cases."

Asked by a lawyer for the victims' families how these errors could have occurred, Mr Logan told the court: "It troubles me that this identification was missed and it is something which shouldn't have happened, but when you have human beings, you can have human errors."

Mr Logan added: "I can't tell you why Mr Thompson made the mistakes that he did."

Mr Thompson later gave evidence to the court in which he was asked why he had made the errors.

He told the court: "I have thought this through a lot and I do not have an answer. I am disappointed that I missed it (the fingerprint match)."

Mr Thompson is due to give further evidence to the court on Wednesday, when he will be examined by lawyers representing the relatives of those killed at Kingsmill.


From Belfast Telegraph