JAYATP.FTKE S.—Martinus and Dole.
1943Present: Jayetileke J.MARTINUS, Appellant, and DOLE, Respondent-.
38—M. C. Badulla-Haldummulla, 15,617.
Fingerprints—Charge of housebreaking—Accused’s fingerprints on ' glasspane—Explanation by, accused-inference of guilt,
Where, in a charge of housebreaking and theft, the only evidence ofany importance against the accused was certain fingerprints which wereadmitted to be his, and which were found on the outer side of a glasspane of a window, and where the accused gave an explanation how thefingerprints came to be on the window,—
Held, that the Magistrate was not entitled to infer that the accusedwas the thief.
King v. Logus (34 N. L. R. 255) distinguished.
PPEAL from a conviction by the Magistrate of Badulla-Haldum-mulla.
No appearance for accused, appellant.
N. Nadarasa, C.C., for Crown, respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
February 17, 1943. Jayetileke J.—
The accused in this case was convicted under sections 433 and 369 ofthe Penal Code with having committed housebreaking and theft andsentenced to one year’s rigorous imprisonment and one year’s policesupervision.
The only evidence of any importance against the accused is that certainfingerprints which were admitted ta be bis w.ere found on the outer sideof a glass pane of a window of one of the bed rooms of the building he wascharged with having broken into. The thief was supposed to haveentered the house through that window.
The learned Magistrate relying on the case of King v. Logus hasinferred from the presence of the fingerprints on the glass pane that theaccused was the thief. The facts of that case were quite different fromthe facts of the present case. In that case the fingerprints were foundon the glass panes of a door inside the house leading from the hall to aninner room and there was evidence that the accused was not in the habitof going into that house. The accused did not give evidence or makea statement explaining the presence of the fingerprints on the glass pane.Dalton J. held that in the absence of evidence by the accused that heever was in the house before or that he was entitled to go there, the- DistrictJudge was entitled to infer from the fingerprints upon the door that theaccused was one of the thieves.(
In this case the accused has given evidence. He said that he had beenworking for five months prior to the date oil 'which the burglary tookplace quite close to this building and that he was .in the habit of goingdaily to this building to drink water.
i 3d N. L. R. o. 255.
JAYETTLEKE J.—Martinus and Dole.
About ten days before he was arrested he noticed that one of thewindow panes had been broken and out of curiosity he placed his handson a glass pane and peeped inside the house.
This evidence explains the presence of the fingerprints on the glasspane. In these circumstances I do not think the Magistrate was entitledto infer that the accuse'd was the culprit.
1 would set aside the conviction and sentence and acquit the accused.