How pioneering camera helped get murder conviction

The iSTAR camera was used by Warwickshire Police to record a 360-view
The iSTAR camera was used by Warwickshire Police to record a 360-view
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A PIONEERING camera designed by Capital experts that constructs panoramic images viewers can “walk through” has helped secure a conviction at a murder trial in Birmingham.

Dubbed iSTAR, the camera was developed by Morningside company NCTech and deployed at the Crown Court to allow the jury to see a 360-degree landscape of the crime scene.

Warwickshire Police used the technology – which produces a ‘street view’-style picture of the scene – to help secure a conviction of Scott Melville, 38, who murdered partially sighted pensioner Sydney Pavier, 91, in his Leamington Spa home during a ­burglary.

A jury convicted Melville of murder on June 2 and details of how the camera allowed them to gain a view of the crime scene have only now emerged.

Peter Grieves-Smith, principal crown advocate of the Crown Prosecution Service, who led the prosecution team at the Melville trial, said the device provided “invaluable footage” that had “greatly assisted” the jury to understand the layout of the ­property.

He added: “It will surely become the norm to use this in the future in the prosecution of complex and grave crime.”

NCTech, which employs 13 people and is based on Braid Road, was founded two years ago by Neil Tocher and Cameron Ure. The pair first began developing camera technology 20 years ago, providing devices for virtual tours to property companies. However, the recession in 2008 put paid to this venture. The duo then set to work creating a high-end precision 360-degree camera for use by the military and police.

The firm now sells hundreds of £5000 iSTAR cameras to law enforcement agencies across the world each year.

Mr Tocher said: “ISTAR effectively puts you at the heart of an incident. You can view the location using 360-degree 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.

“ISTAR has proven itself in this important case and paved the way for this type of technology to be used for serious and critical situations. We hope this landmark case and use of the technology demonstrates the ability of iSTAR and high resolution 360-degree imaging to assist the emergency services in challenging situations.”

Forensic investigators at Warwickshire Police deploy the camera at serious road accidents and at murder scenes.

At the Melville trial the judge, and the defence and prosecution barristers, believed it was easier for the jury to understand the layout of the house and contents by virtually ‘walking’ through the building.