Burglar hears how his ear for detail let him down

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The Independent Online
Burglar Calvin Sewell was just too careful for his own good. Every time he broke into a house he would spend minutes with his ear pressed to doors and windows to make sure no one was at home. The technique appeared to be fool-proof, allowing him to carry out 13 burglaries and walk away with pounds 4,000 worth of property.

But Sewell's listening tactics proved his undoing. For when police carried out the forensic testing designed to uncover a criminal's fingerprints they noticed the outline of the burglar's ears in 13 different places.

Yesterday at Southwark Crown Court, London, Simon Medland, prosecuting, told a jury: "This case solely relies on ear-printing."

The court heard that police used a special acetate-based substance to take a mould of Sewell's ears - believed to be the first taken of a British criminal - and the burglar was charged soon after. Mr Medland said that the break-ins in Clapham and Vauxhall, south London, had netted Sewell, 25, of Balham, South London, a haul of CDs, walkmans and cameras.

Jailing Sewell for a year, Judge David Elfer QC, told the burglar, who admitted five counts of burglary: "You were caught because of your method in ensuring nobody was actually in the house."

Outside the court, case officer Detective Constable Alan Hodgson said the way Sewell had been caught was so impressive he was going to encourage fellow officers to keep an eye out for giveaway ear prints from now on.

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