n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - Shattering the silence : how glass analysis speaks

Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



The article sets out to develop a 'clear picture' of how glass analysis may be used for forensic purposes. It discusses the manufacture and properties of different types of glass. The article examines glass breakage and the signifi cance of fragments and fragment distribution in establishing the point, direction and type of impact causing the breakage. Techniques of establishing the identity of glass are analysed, eg the measurement of the refractive index of the glass sample. Using the refractive index is still probably the most useful measurement for the identifi cation of glass particles. The application of the Bayes Theorem to glass analysis is also discussed. The evidentiary value of glass particles found at a crime or accident scene is examined and possible errors and inadequacies are pointed out. While modern analytical methods have extended the availability of evidence, such testimony should be scrutinized carefully to ensure reliability and cogency.

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