Crime prosecutors use panoramic camera footage as aid in murder trial

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A murder trial in a Birmingham, UK Crown Court has used panoramic 360 degree crime scene photographs provided by an innovative camera that permits a virtual ‘walk through’ of the scene of an incident. The iStar camera is designed and manufactured by Edinburgh company NCTech.

Warwickshire Police used the iStar camera – which produces a ‘street view’ style navigation – to help secure a 26 year conviction of Scott Melville (38) who murdered partially sighted pensioner Sydney Pavier (91) in his Leamington Spa home during a burglary. The members of the jury convicted Melville of murder at Birmingham Crown Court on 2 June and details of how the camera allowed them to be part of a virtual ‘walk through’ of the crime scene have now emerged.

Peter Grieves-Smith, principal Crown advocate of the Crown Prosecution Service, who led the prosecution team at the Melville trial, stated: ‘It was invaluable footage that greatly assisted the jury in understanding the layout of the property. It will surely become the norm to use this in the future in the prosecution of complex and grave crime.’

The iStar camera, which takes 360° panoramic, high definition photographs, is used by Forensic Collision Investigators at Warwickshire Police at the scene of serious road accidents. The camera was also used at the murder scene in Leamington Spa to take photographs in every room in the house, as well as the street outside.

Neil Tocher, co-founder and CTO for NCTech, commented: ‘iStar effectively puts you at the heart of an incident. You can view the location using 360° images as if you are standing in the room and look around in any direction. As a visual aid it is very helpful indeed as it immerses viewers in the scene and it can help refresh witnesses’ memories.’

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