B.C. Wijemanne, Registar of Finger Prints at Colombo, Ceylon, reports an interesting case that offers a Sinhalese precedent. A burglary was committed at the Meaden bungalow in Ceylon in January, 1942. The only evidence of value was a partial foot print of the latent variety.
The print was processed and photographed. A lengthy search was conducted in the file of offenders' foot prints maintained by the Criminal Investigation Deparment. On August 13, 1943, a foot print record was found in the files, whose pattern was identical with the latent print found at the crime scene. This record was found in a file containing over 700 sets of foot prints. The latent print was identified as that of one Singho Appu, a nortorious burglar.
However, there was nothing in the Ceylon Evidence Ordinance which gave such evidence legal standing, although the Ordinance recognized finger print evidence (Here is an insance where the term dermatoglyhics, used in legislation, would be of incomparable value. HJM)
It was decided to take the foot print evidence into court as a test case. Wijemanne appeared as a government expert. The defense contended that foot prints did not constitute a science, as did finger prints. The prosecution's expert offered photographic enlargements of the evidence with 37 characteristics--which were identical--indicated. The 60-year old defendant was convicted. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court on grounds that the evidence was not sound in law. On January 17, 1945, the conviction was upheld and appeal dismissed.
More early footprint (plantar) cases are forth coming.