Belfast Telegraph

Kingsmills fingerprint expert who failed to match print made series of 'misses' in other cases, inquest told

By Rebecca Black

A fingerprint specialist who twice failed to match a print found in the suspected getaway van used in the Kingmills massacre also made a series of “misses” in historic cases, an inquest has heard.

Dennis Thompson worked for the Historical Enquiries Team for around eight years and examined 685 cases.

He failed in 2010 and again in 2014 to link a palm print to a sample found on the alleged getaway vehicle used by the IRA killers of ten Protestant workmen gunned down at Kingsmills in South Armagh in 1976.

However another fingerprint expert last year decided to run another check and successfully made a match.

Following this matching, a “dip sample” of Mr Thompson’s work was carried out by PSNI specialists, with oversight by two officers from the London Metropolitan Police.

Of a sample of 70 cases that Mr Thompson examined for the HET, errors were found in 12, including the Kingmills miss.

The inquest did not hear which other cases may have been affected.

These revelations were made public this morning during an inquest into the Kingmills massacre.

The inquest heard from Jeff Logan, the head of the PSNI's Fingerprint Bureau, who last year was tasked to look at some of the other work carried out by Mr Thompson for the HET.

Responding to questions being asked by Richard Smith, acting for some of the families of those killed at Kingsmills, Mr Logan told the inquest the errors “trouble” him.

“It is something that shouldn't have happened,” he told the inquest.

However Mr Logan also made the point that where human beings are called on to make judgements, error is always a risk. He also described how Mr Thompson had worked for the HET, alone, by himself, and looking at 685 cases. This, he told the inquest, was in sharp contrast to the PSNI Fingerprint Bureau where staff work in a team, cases are double checked and the work of staff is dip tested every month to ensure quality.

Mr Logan has also ruled out any “pattern” to errors.

Mr Thompson is expected to give evidence to the inquest this afternoon.

The inquest was halted in 2016 following the matching of the palm print while a criminal investigation got underway. However a decision was taken not to prosecute.

The inquest continues. It is expected to hear later this week from Detective Chief Inspector Harrison who led the most recent criminal investigation into Kingsmills,

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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