A murderer hanged on Tuesday, June 22nd, 1920, became the first man ever to be executed in New Zealand almost entirely on fingerprint evidence.
Dennis Gunn, 25, killed Augustus Braithwaite, postmaster at Ponsonby, Auckland, in Mr. Braithwaites own home, then used his keys to open the strongroom. Detectives found fingerprints on three cash boxes before sending them by train to Wellington to be identified.
Gunns prints were held in the nascent record system because he had been an army deserter. The official report of the trial reads: The result disposes of all attempts to question the conclusiveness of this class of evidence, and proves the truth of the remark of the Chief Justice of Australia, that a man who leaves a clear fingerprint on an object leaves there an unforgettable signature.