Future Tense

A 3-D–Printed Bottle Clinches a Murder Trial

The replica bottle hot off the presses.

Photo from City College Plymouth

3-D printing has infinite potential, but it can also be gimmicky. In the case of this British murder trial, though, the technology played a pretty important role.

Lee Dent, 42, was convicted of murdering 17-year-old Alex Peguero Sosa in southern England (Kingsbridge, Devon) in July 2014. Dent stabbed Peguero Sosa in the neck with a broken bottle. And to demonstrate the crime to the court, the Devon and Cornwall Police enlisted a local school, City College Plymouth, to make a 3-D replica of the bottle.

It took 28 hours for the college’s CubeX 3D printer to recreate the murder weapon. “When we were approached by a senior detective who was involved with the murder trial, … [we] were able to design and produce the weapon using the latest software,” a school spokesperson said in a statement.

It was the first time the college’s 3-D printing equipment was used in this way, and the first time the Devon and Cornwall Police incorporated the technology into an investigation. “This was the first time we had used this technological approach, and the use of it in court helped to fully explain the facts,” said Detective Inspector Ian Ringrose.

Dent will serve a minimum term of 22 years in prison.