Lim T.B*, Michael Tay Ming Kiong
International Association of Forensic Sciences, 16th Triennial Meeting
August 2002, Montpellier, France. (oral presentation)
This presentation will describe the evidential values of newspaper sheets found at crime scenes. The newspaper printing process will be discussed and linked to the features appeared on newspaper sheets.
Newspaper sheets can be used as wrapping papers for weapons and packaging papers for dollar notes and illegal drugs during crime. Pieces of torn sheets are normally recovered for physical fitting of crime scene and suspected samples. Intact newspaper sheets at the crime scenes are often neglected as evidence in criminal investigation. Our project’s aim was to investigate the possibility of connecting intact newspaper sheets to their original set of newspaper.
Most daily newspapers use offset printing and web press in their production. During the printing process, rolls of large blank paper are fed into an assembly of cylinders where inked images are transferred onto both sides of the paper. These contain images of all the sheets found in one set of newspaper. The continuous stream of printed paper is guided through a series of slitters that cut the paper into tabloid or broad sheets. The cut sheets are then assembled into correct sequence and folded in their final forms.
Examination of the newspaper sheets reveals presence of pre-planned marks and random marks, holes and cuts. Pre-arranged marks are coloured dots, cross-dots, bars and crosses. There are features which are random in nature such as straight lines, curved lines, roller marks and coloured paper fibres. Three or four of the edges of a newspaper sheet are cut depending on the position of the newspaper pages on the original roll of paper.
We examined and compared the features found on every newspaper sheet in an original set of a locally produced tabloid newspaper. We visited the local newspaper printing plant and observed the printing and assembly of the tabloid newspaper. The study showed that it is possible to link a single sheet of newspaper to its original complete set. We also study the effect of repeated folding and treatment of fingerprint reagents on physical fitting microscopic cutting edges of newspaper sheets.