The incidence and position of melanocytic nevi for the purposes of forensic image comparison

S. Black, B. MacDonald-McMillan, X. Mallett, C. Rynn, G. Jackson

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Expert witness opinion based on the comparison of images has been accepted by UK courts as admissible evidence in relation to issues of identity. Within images of the hand are a multiplicity of anatomical features of different aetiology, incidence and distribution patterns and this includes melanocytic nevi, referred to more colloquially as moles and/or birthmarks. The hand is not a common place for these isolated features to develop and so their presence in this anatomical region has the potential to be useful for issues of identity. The results of this study show that approximately 9 % of individuals in a sample of 476 hands, displayed at least one nevus on the back of their hand and, contrary to the literature, the incidence was found to be greater in females (15 % of female cohort) than males (7 % of male cohort). Almost a third of all nevi identified on the dorsum of the hand were abnormal or dysplastic. The most frequent location for these aggregations of melanocytes was in the central region of the dorsum of the hand or at the base of the index finger. The relevance of nevi identified in the image of a perpetrator’s hand and also on that of a suspect/accused is discussed in relation to the issue of whether the images have originated from the same individual.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-543
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Legal Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date19 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

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