Case Study

Mark Dallagher

6 September 2022

Mark Dallagher was convicted of the murder of 94 year old Dorothy Wood. Mrs Wood was found dead in her bed at home having been killed by an intruder. Forensic examination revealed earprints on the glass below a window, through which the intruder had supposedly entered. Mark Dallagher was a former small-time burglar and was arrested soon after the attack. Evidence was submitted claiming that he had left a unique ear print as he listened at the window before breaking in. This evidence was from a Dutch policeman interested in ear print identification (who had no formal forensic science qualifications) – at the time this method of identification was seen as ground breaking. The conviction was found to be unsafe because the reliability of the ear print evidence had not been properly tested at the original trial. At a retrial, new DNA evidence showed that the ear print could not have belonged to Dallagher, and he was acquitted.

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“This is another example of dangers of police perhaps following science too closely.”

James Sturman QC (Reported by Yorkshire Live).