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If fingerprints found on David Bain's rifle had been placed there six months before the June 20, 1994, shootings of his family, subsequent handling of the weapon would have destroyed them, police fingerprint expert Kim Jones said today.
Mr Jones agreed it was not scientifically possible to age fingerprints accurately. But when he gave his evidence two weeks ago he told Justice Panckhurst and the Bain retrial jury in Christhchurch the prints appeared to be of ''recent origin'' and to have resulted from considerable force in the handling of the rifle.
It was known 14-year-old Stephen Bain had fought with his murderer before he was fatally shot, Crown counsel Kieran Raftery told Mr Jones, and Stephen's print was found on the silencer.
If Stephen's print and other prints had been on the weapon before the fight on June 20, ''the fight would have dramatically destroyed or certainly smudged the prints on the firearm'', Mr Jones said.
Under cross-examination by Michael Reed QC earlier today, the witness said he believed another Crown witness, former ESR scientist Peter Hentschel was mistaken about when a blood sample was taken at his (Mr Jones') direction and the place on the rifle where it was taken.
Mr Jones said he directed Mr Hentschel to take a sample from a fingerprint area on the rifle on June 22, two days after five members of the Bain family had been shot.
But Mr Reed suggested Mr Jones was wrong about that as Mr Hentschel's evidence was he took the sample on August 4, 1994.
Asked how he could explain the difference between his timing ans that of Mr Hentschel, Mr Jones said: "I'm saying he's mistaken."
Mr Jones was giving evidence under cross-examination and re-examination on the 38th day of the retrial of David Bain (38) for the murders of his parents, two sisters and brother Stephen.