A forensic imagery analyst has told Belfast Crown Court 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.
Mr McCrory was shot four times in the bedroom of a flat in the centre of Londonderry in October 2013.
The witness 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 Londonderry, is accused of executing the 35-year old victim on the morning of October 10, 2013.
The court heard the 60-year old father of six, was arrested in the early hours of October 16 after being located lying under a car in the Rossnagalliagh area of the Cityside.
He denies the murder charge and also denies a further charge of possession of a sawn-off 12- bore, double barrelled shotgun, as well as possession of shotgun cartridges, a Mauser self-pistol and ammunition with intent to endanger life as well as possession of an imitation Walther pistol.
The court was told he had 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, a forensic imagery analyst confirmed that he had been asked to compare the facial images of a person known as ‘Man X’ and McLaughlin.
The court heard that many of ‘Man X’s’ facial features were obscured in the still image which was examined. This was due to the fact that 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 analysis 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.
The case continues.