Accused's fingerprints on note left by armed raiders 'a coincidence'
A PENSIONER accused of an armed raid 26 years ago has explained his fingerprints being on a list left behind by the robbers by saying they must have used his notepaper.
Barrie Rhodes was arrested for the attempted armed robbery at Jeanian Jewellers, in Derby, after a match was found between his fingerprint and marks – since uploaded to a national database – left at the crime scene.
The grandfather is accused of being one of the two men who walked into the wholesalers in Osmaston Road on July 10, 1986, armed with a sawn-off shotgun.
The weapon was pointed at the head of a woman working in the shop but they ran off empty-handed when her husband fought them off and set off the alarm.
Rhodes, 65, of Monument Lane, Ironville, yesterday told a jury at Nottingham Crown Court that he had "definitely not" committed the crime.
He agreed when it was put to him that it must have been a coincidence that his fingerprint marks had been left on jewellery boxes, which were disturbed in the raid at the wholesalers in Osmaston Road, as well as the "robbers' list".
The court heard that on the incriminating note were scrawled words; keys, rope, walkie talkies and brief case.
Prosecutor Justin Wigoder asked: "How do you say your fingerprints came to be on that piece of paper?"
Rhodes told the jury he had been involved in buying and selling jewellery at the time and had visited hundreds of houses asking for broken items.
He said: "I used to go in people's houses with notebooks. I used to give them a receipt. They would keep the receipts. If I touched that piece of paper, someone could have torn a piece off it."
He said he must have visited Jeanian Jewellers on one occasion to find out about the price of gold and silver items because he had intentions of setting up his own jewellery shop.
Mr Wigoder put to Rhodes: "What we have is the two robbers have the same jewellery boxes out you were looking at before it (the robbery) was done, by quite somewhat of a coincidence. These are robbers who you must have been in contact with unwittingly, because you have touched the piece of paper, on which is the robbers' list."
Rhodes responded: "Well coincidences happen."
The court heard that Rhodes' fingerprints were scanned through the national database after he was arrested on suspicion of an armed robbery at the Lloyds Bank in Cromford in September 1985.
His brother-in-law, Alan Murray, of Pilmoor, near York, admitted his part in that offence in 2010 and was jailed. Yesterday, the court was told the reason for Rhodes arrest was his "association" with Murray. Rhodes was released without charge and the case against him was dropped.
The jury also heard that Rhodes only had one conviction and that was for unpaid tax in 2007, for which he was fined £250. The trial continues.