On March 27, 1905, neighbors discover the badly bludgeoned bodies of Thomas and Ann Farrow in their South London shop. Thomas was already dead, but Ann was still breathing, but died four days later without regaining consciousness. The brutal crime was solved using the newly developed fingerprinting technique. Only three years earlier, the first English court had admitted fingerprint evidence in a petty theft case. The Farrow case was the first time that the cutting-edge technology was used in a high-profile murder case in Britain.
Since the cash box in which the Farrow's stored their cash receipts was empty, it was clear to Scotland Yard investigators that robbery was the motive for the crime. One print on the box did not match the victims or any of the criminal prints that Scotland Yard possessed. Fortunately, a local milkman reported seeing two young men in the vicinity of the Farrow house on the day of the murders. They were identified as brothers Alfred and Albert Stratton, and a week later, authorities caught up with them and fingerprinted them. Alfred's right thumb was a perfect match for the print on the Farrow's cash box. The fingerprint evidence became the prosecutions only solid evidence when the eye witness was no able to positively identify the Stratton’s. The defense used expert Dr. John Garson to attack the reliability of the fingerprint evidence, but the prosecution countered with evidence that Garson had written to both the defense and prosecution on the same day offering his services to both. The Stratton brothers, obviously not helped by the discrediting of Garson, were convicted of the murders and hanged on May 23, 1905. Since then, fingerprint evidence has become commonplace in criminal trials and the lack of it, is often used by defense attorneys.
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