Friday, June 14, 2013

Thomas Smart: UK; Liverpool man convicted of possessing ammunition sues after now-disbanded forensic unit falsely said bullet was live - amid allegations that exhibit numbers were altered. BBC News.

STORY: "Man sues over  forensics  live bullet conviction mix-up," published by BBC News on June 7, 2013. (Thanks to the Wrongful Convictions Blog for drawing our attention to this story. HL).

GIST:  "A man wrongfully convicted of possessing ammunition after forensics staff mixed up his £3 keyring and a live bullet is suing the government. Thomas Smart, 25, of Fazakerley, Liverpool, received a four-month suspended jail sentence and completed 180 hours of community service in 2008. The now disbanded,Forensic Science Service (FSS) said a bullet found in his room was live. It later admitted it was a keyring he bought for £3 at a car boot sale. Mr Smart's conviction was quashed in 2009 after the FSS, which was owned by the government, wrote to police admitting the wrong exhibit had been examined......... Mr Smart alleges crucial exhibit records were altered and that one member of staff either knew the "bullet" was not a live round or was "recklessly indifferent" to the truth. The "bullet" was found in Mr Smart's bedroom during a police search of his home for a reason unconnected to him, the court heard. When forensics experts said it was a live bullet Mr Smart was forced to plead guilty to the crime and suffered depression and anxiety due to his arrest and wrongful conviction, judges were told. 'One shudders' His QC, Pete Weatherby, told the court there was evidence to suggest the item's exhibit reference number had been changed at some point. The incident led to an internal inquiry and changes were made to systems as a result. Lord Justice Moses observed: "One thing that you must never do is alter exhibit numbers... a child would know that. "I hope that this does not happen very often. If it does, one shudders." Outside court Mr Smart said: "I was lucky that this error was spotted, but how many other people does this happen to? "If they hadn't realised their mistake, I would never have been able to challenge the result because, even if I'd arranged for the bullet to be re-tested, it would have been the wrong exhibit."

The entire story can be found at:


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