Expert in facial comparisons gives evidence at murder trial

Kieran McLaughlin pictured at an earlier court hearing in Derry.
Kieran McLaughlin pictured at an earlier court hearing in Derry.

A forensic imagery analyst has said it was his opinion there was “moderate support” to contend that a gunman wanted in connection with murder and the man being tried for the fatal shooting is the same person.

The expert, who specialises in image and facial comparisons, was giving evidence during day five of the trial into the death of Barry McCrory, who was shot four times in the bedroom of a flat in the centre of Derry in October 2013.

He was asked to compare an image of ‘Man X’ - who was captured on CCTV entering the block of flats at Shipquay Street both prior to and after the fatal shooting - with an image of suspect Kieran McLaughlin.

McLaughlin, from Elaghmore Park in Derry, is accused of executing the 35-year old victim on the morning of October 10, 2013.

The 60-year old father of six - who was arrested in the early hours of October 16 after being located lying under a car in the Rossnagalliagh area of Derry - denies the murder and further denies possessing a sawn-off, 12 bore double barrelled shotgun, shotgun cartridges, a Mauser self-pistol and ammunition with intent to endanger life and possessing a imitation Walther pistol.

He has already pleaded guilty to possessing the shotgun, pistol and ammunition in suspicious circumstances on the same dates.

During the fifth day of the Diplock non-jury trial which is being held at Belfast Crown Court, the forensic imagery anaylst revealed that he was asked to compare the facial images of ‘Man X’ and McLaughlin.

The court heard that many of Man X’s facial features were obscured in the still image that was examined as the gunman was wearing a hood and safety glasses. This, the court heard, meant features such as Man X’s ears, forehead, eyebrows and hairline were obscured.

Giving evidence, the expert said that, despite several of Man X’s features being obscured, there were some similar features between the two images. These included a “broad consistency” in the appearance of the noses and the roundness of the chins.

When asked to give his conclusion, the facial comparison expert said that, based on his findings, “the anaysis lends moderate support to the contention that Man X and Mr McLaughlin are the same person.”

Under cross-examination by defence barrister Brian McCartney QC, the expert admitted his findings were not validated or verified by a colleague or anyone else in the field of facial mapping.

At hearing.