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Dandruff Costs U.K. Criminal His Freedom

November 22, 2004

LONDON (AP) _ A veteran criminal received the longest prison sentence of his career Monday, after being caught because of the dandruff he had left behind at the scene of an armed robbery.

Using a DNA profiling method, investigators identified Andrew Pearson as a suspect by examining 25 flakes of dandruff found in a stocking he had worn as a mask during the robbery 11 years ago.

Pearson’s two accomplices in the crime remain at large.

Andrew Pearson, now 40, and the two other men escaped with $70,630 in cash after raiding a caravan company in the northeastern city of Hull in June 1993.

Pearson _ who had 76 pervious convictions for crimes such as burglary, assault and robbery _ was only arrested in June for the caravan crime after the relatively new DNA procedure matched his dandruff with a swab of his saliva.

Using that evidence, a jury needed only 75 minutes Monday to convict Pearson of robbery and possession of a firearm. Judge Michael Murphy then sentenced him to 12 years for the robbery and a consecutive three years for possessing a firearm.

During the crime, Pearson and his accomplices _ armed with two guns and a baseball bat _ held five staff members at the caravan company, one of whom was wounded by a gunshot.

The criminals fled the scene in a car that was later abandoned nearby. Part of the stocking Pearson had used as a mask was found by police, who removed the dandruff and kept it as evidence.

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