(1961) All N.L.R. 34



Division: Federal Supreme Court

                          Date of Judgment: 26th January, 1961

                          Case Number: FSC 251/1960

                          Before: Brett, F.J.J.

                                        Taylor, F.J.J.

                                        Bairamian F.J.J.


The appellant was accused of burglary. On a louver of the broken entry window, there was a finger-print impression, and a person of experience and training compared it with the appellant's finger-prints. He gave evidence of sixteen similarities, and testified that he excluded the possibility of the impression on the louver being that of any other person. The trial Judge satisfied himself, from a visual examination of the exhibits put in by the witness that the finger-print on the louver was identical with the fingerprints of the appellant taken by the police, and convicted him. On appeal-


The conviction based solely on the similarity of the finger-prints was good.

Appeal dismissed.

Cases referred to:-

R. v. Bacon, 1915; 11 Cr. App. R. 90;

R. v. Castleton, 1901; 3 Cr. App. R. 74;

APPEAL from High Court of Lagos.

Appellant in person.

Oki, Senior Crown Counsel, for the Crown.

Taylor, F.J., delivering the Judgment of the court:-On the 1st June 1960, the appellant was convicted of burglary and stealing contrary to subsection 411(1) and 390(4)(b) of the criminal code respectively at the sessions of the High Court of Lagos by Coker, J.

At the hearing of this appeal, the appellant, who argued his appeal himself, urged that at the time of the alleged offence he was far away from the scene of the crime, being at Calabar in the Eastern Region. Further that none of the alleged stolen property was found in his possession and finally that the second prosecution witness, Inspector Fayemi, who conducted the investigations, had a grudge against the appellant and trumped up this case against him.

These arguments had also been advanced by the appellant at his trial to no avail. The trial Judge found him guilty because the evidence showed that the accepted finger-prints of the appellant were similar to the finger-prints discovered on the louver exhibit "A" which was one of the louvers removed by the police from the house of the first prosecution witness which has been broken into. The method by which entry had been gained into the premises was in fact through the window by removing some 8 or 10 of these louvers from their fastenings.

We are of the view that there is no substance in this appeal and that the conviction based solely as it was on the similarity of the finger-prints under the circumstances of this appeal is sound. The learned Author of Wills on Circumstantial Evidence the 6th Edition refers to an unreported case tried in 1908 at Birmingham in these words at 203:-

A burglary had been committed and the offender had left the imprint of one or more of his fingers on a champagne bottle. Twelve identical ridge characteristics were pointed out in the two sets of impressions, but the learned Judge was so far from being satisfied that he twice invited the jury to say that they were not satisfied. The jury, however, did not accept the invitation and convicted the prisoner.

This appeal against conviction will therefore be dismissed. Strictly speaking there is no appeal against sentence, but the appellant has attacked the sentence as being excessive in his last ground of appeal against his conviction. We see no reason to alter the sentence passed on the appellant.

Appeal dismissed.