Suffolk murder conviction appeal rejected

A man's appeal against his conviction for murdering an elderly woman in Ipswich has been rejected.

Simon Hall, 33, of Ipswich, was found guilty in 2003 of stabbing Joan Albert, 79, after a jury heard fibres found at her home linked him to the scene.

A Court of Appeal hearing in December 2010 heard conflicting evidence over the reliability of key evidence.

Three appeal court judges rejected an appeal, adding there was no reason to doubt the conviction's safety.

Lord Justice Pitchford, Mrs Justice Dobbs and Mr Justice Kenneth Parker had been urged to overturn the conviction as unsafe in the light of fresh scientific evidence relating to fibres.

Hall, a power company office worker from Ipswich, was 25 when he was jailed for life after a trial at Norwich Crown Court.

He denied murder and has continued to protest his innocence.

Image caption Joan Albert was found dead in the hallway of her home

Mrs Albert's blood-stained body was found in the hallway of her home in Capel St Mary, near Ipswich, in December 2001. She had been stabbed five times.

The appeal judges ruled: "We have no reason to doubt the safety of the jury's verdict and the appeal is dismissed."

The judges stated in a written ruling said they accepted the fibre evidence at the trial was "incomplete".

But added they were still "quite satisfied that the scientific support for the assertion that the appellant was the source of the fibres found at the crime scene is compelling".

'Seeking truth'

Following the judgement Hall's wife Stephanie said in a statement: "I am angry with the justice system.

"We will not rest until the whole truth of this case has been made public."

Later Hall's solicitor Correna Platt, of Stephensons Solicitors, said Mr Hall and his family were "devastated".

"His legal team are concerned by the approach taken by the (appeal) court in coming to this decision," she said.

"It was agreed by all that his conviction rested entirely on expert evidence relating to fibre evidence, and there is much other evidence that pointed away from Simon's guilt."

Ms Platt said the "right and proper" outcome would have been for the appeal judges to have sent the case back, with the new evidence to a jury "as the jury are the final arbiters of disputes of this kind and not the Court of Appeal".

Jurors at the original trial were told that fingerprints, footprints and DNA evidence found at the scene of the murder did not match Mr Hall's.

But fibres from a pair of black trousers, in his car and in a cupboard at his parents' home, linked him to the murder, the prosecution forensic expert said at the time.

Forensic scientist Tiernan Coyle, who worked on the Damilola Taylor murder investigation, said with the exception of one fibre, the flock fibres found at the address of Hall's mother were different from those found at the murder scene.

But Ray Palmer, of the Forensic Science Service, insisted his own re-examination of the fibres "bolsters the initial findings", that fibres linked Hall to the scene.

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