effected the task of identifying these revolvers by means of ordinary microscopes and not by a comparison microscope. This shows what can be done by competent experts and emphasises the fact, which should be obvious, that it is not the instrument which effects the identification but the man who uses the instrument.
The manner in which the work of identification was conducted and in which the evidence was prepared was a model of how such work should be carried out and such evidence should be prepared.
One by one the marks on the breech face of the revolver were carefully noted and compared with marks on the base of the "crime" cartridge, when in every instance the two sets of markings were found to correspond.
These markings were as follows—
(1) There were two concave and overlapping indentations on the face of the shield of the revolver, one above the other, at 12 o'clock; and one indentation at 7 o'clock at the edge of the striker hole.
There were two comparable embossings on the cap of the "crime" cartridge, but the indentation on the edge of the striker hole was only partially reproduced on the cap owing to the protruding hammer nose (or striker) preventing a complete "set back" of the cap when the hammer was down in the fired position.
(2) There was a burr round the edge of the striker hole extending from 9 o'clock to 11 o'clock. This was also reproduced on the cap.
(3) The shape of the hammer nose (or striker) was irregular, the left side being inclined and the right side vertical. These irregularities were reproduced in the cap indentation of the "crime" cartridge.
(4) The extremity of the hammer nose was damaged in a peculiar manner by numerous small indentations.
There were comparable embossings in the bottom of the striker indentation of the "crime" cartridge.
Photographs were taken of five "test" cartridges fired from Brown's revolver and another of the "crime" cartridge. The identity of all six cartridges was obvious, even to an untrained person.
But not satisfied with this positive evidence of identification the experts examined the whole stock of old revolvers of exactly similar pattern and manufacture which had been received from various units in the Army for repair. This stock consisted of 1,375 revolvers, out of which six were found with irregular indentations on the breech faces. Test cartridges were fired from these six revolvers and compared with the "crime" cartridge; but in every case the markings were distinctly different from those on the "crime" cartridge.1
The bullet evidence was equally complete, but owing to the extraordinary simple and convincing nature of the cartridge evidence, and the difficulty of explaining the bullet evidence to a non-technical jury, the prosecution decided not to bring the bullet evidence forward and relied entirely on the cartridge evidence.
Colonel Todhunter told me that when the member of his Enfield staff who had himself examined the 1,375 revolvers was giving evidence he was asked by the
1 I have always regarded this as a classic example of putting forward the negative evidence that the particular fired cartridge could not have been fired from some other revolver than the one with which it had been identified. It is true that to make such negative evidence theoretically complete every single revolver in existence should have been examined for signs of a "family likeness," but this is obviously an absurdity. All Service revolvers made at Enfield are well finished, and the work carried out in the Gutteridge case does, I think, prove that there is no real risk of a pronounced "family likeness" existing in weapons which receive such careful individual finishing. It was largely to establish this fact that Colonel Todhunter insisted on this exhaustive work being carried out, and the member of his staff who actually did it told me that there was really nothing approaching anything to refute the belief that every single revolver had its own particular and individual "thumb-mark."
defending counsel whether it really was his opinion that the fired cartridge case in question had been fired by the particular revolver which the prosecution maintained had fired it, he replied: "I would not call it an opinion so much as a statement of the same sort as when I say that the front of this witness box is made of wood/'
The similarity of the photographs of the six cartridges was so pronounced that when the judge looked at them at first he thought that all six were "test" cartridges, and he asked for a photograph of the "crime" cartridge, when he was told that he already had it.
The Gutteridge case has become so well known, partly because it was the first of its kind to be heard in Great Britain, and partly because of the overwhelming success of the manner in which the evidence of firearms identification was prepared and presented, that it is not altogether surprising to find the credit being given to, or claimed by, persons who had nothing to do with Colonel Tod-hunter's team or even with the case itself. For Colonel Todhunter did not give evidence himself, although he was present in Court, and his was the directing brain throughout. He was the last person to seek the limelight and took the view that he himself and his subordinates were employed by the War Office, and had been asked by the War Office to do a particular job, and that as far as he and his staff were concerned it was all in the day's work. But not everyone prefers anonimity. For example, in the book to which I have already referred, on page 97 it states that it was the Home Office expert who gave evidence "and was able to say with a full degree of certainty" that the bullet which had killed the policeman had been fired from the particular revolver concerned. In view of the fact that it was the cartridge evidence which established identification and that no bullet evidence was ever put forward, it is not easy to understand how such statements can appear in print, especially in a book which has the outward appearance of inside information.
And in 1948 a case of alleged murder was heard in Kenya in which an expert witness for the defence was called from England. This witness in his evidence in chief, and during cross-examination, stated that he had given evidence for the Crown in the Gutteridge case. Unfortunately an official verbatim publication of this case gave the list of witnesses who gave evidence, and this particular person's name was not listed. As a spectator in Court at the time described the incident in a letter to me, "An awful moment for him."
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