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Report No. 87

2.2. Case in Australia.-

One of the leading cases in Australia illustrates the importance of fingerprints. The appellant had been convicted of house-breaking. The only evidence against the appellant depended upon a comparison of one of several fingerprints on a bottle (which was in a shop when broken into), with a print of the middle finger of the appellants' left hand taken in goal. The High Court refused leave to appeal against the conviction observing as follows:-

"Signatures have been accepted as evidence of the identity as long as they have-been used. The fact of the individuality of the corrugations of the skin on the fingers of the human hand is now so generally recognised as to require very little, if any, evidence of it, although it still seems to be the practice to offer some expert evidence on the point. A finger-print is therefore in reality an unforgettable signature. This is now recognised in a large part of the world and in some parts has been for centuries."1

1. R. v. Parker, (1912) 14 CLR 680 (Australia).

Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 Back

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