E-mail backing for convicted killer

AN INVESTIGATION was launched last night after a Suffolk police officer allegedly posted a message of support on a website set up to help free convicted murderer Simon Hall.

By Danielle Nuttall

AN INVESTIGATION was launched last night after a Suffolk police officer allegedly posted a message of support on a website set up to help free convicted murderer Simon Hall.

The email appears on a website which was created by family and friends of 27-year-old Hall in a bid to get his conviction for killing Capel St Mary pensioner Joan Albert overturned.

Suffolk Constabulary admitted last night it was launching an investigation into the message, which purports to be from a serving member of Suffolk police whose name cannot be published for legal reasons.

A police spokesman said: "We have been made aware of the website comment attributed to a police officer and are making initial inquiries.

"The views expressed do not reflect Suffolk Constabulary's position on this matter."

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Hall, who previously lived in Hill House Road, Ipswich, and worked in Colchester, was found guilty of murdering 79-year-old Mrs Albert at her home in Boydlands, Capel, after a 12-day trial in February 2003, following a major police probe.

The elderly widow was discovered dead by a neighbour in the hallway of her home on December 16, 2001, having suffering stab wounds inflicted by a knife taken from the house.

Hall has always maintained his innocence and has sought leave to appeal on two occasions, but both have failed. His case is currently with the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The alleged police officer's message also refers to the case of Suffolk police officer Michael Cheong, who was recently found guilty of the manslaughter of Brian Spencer in Guyana 23 years ago.

It said: "His trial started in July and finished the other day. The verdict: guilty. We're all shocked and devastated."

And, in a comment directed at the Halls, it adds: "Our thoughts and prayers go to you and your family… I know the injustice of it all.

"Shamefully, I am also a police officer in Suffolk. Why is this happening?"

Mrs Albert's family is aware of the message but declined to comment last night.

It is not known what action the police officer will face if the email is deemed genuine.

Phillip Smith, secretary of the Suffolk Police Federation, said there were a number of charges under misconduct regulations, including an offence of bringing the police force into disrepute.

He said if the message was legitimate, a professional standards department might investigate and bring forward a tribunal.

"We have not seen something like this before. The officer could just receive some strong words of advice," he said.

"I'm sure they will investigate those comments and draw a conclusion and submit their findings."

Last night Hall's mother Lynne said of the alleged police officer comment: "It was a big boost.

"To be honest when the investigation was going on we did speak to a few officers who felt the end result was not justified.

"It's nice to see it on paper. I hope it is legitimate but on the other hand I would hate anybody to lose their job over it. It would be a shame.

"There's going to be those who do not believe in the war but they have to go to war because they are soldiers.

"You will always get that in the police force as well."

Earlier this year, Hall posted his own message on the website describing his ordeal since conviction and warning the public the pensioner's killer was still at large.

The former East Bergholt High School pupil said: "From a psychological point of view it must be a relief for the public when they learn from whatever media source that a man has been charged with murder and it must be an even bigger relief when that man is convicted of the crime.

"I obviously appreciate the necessity of putting whoever is responsible behind bars as soon as possible but I am not the man responsible for this crime and that gives me the unfortunate task of telling you that there is a loony still out there."

The campaigning website has now launched a nationwide mailing campaign targeting as many MPs in the country as possible.

Hall's family and friends have written more than 200 letters to contacts asking them to lobby their local MP.

The website also asks visitors to download its generic letter and fill in their details before sending it to their MP.

The letter says: "Having consulted Mr Hall, and having studied the details of the case, we have real concerns about the safety of his conviction.

"We would like to share our concerns with you in the hope that the case can be resolved, with justice prevailing."

Forensic expert Professor Peter Bull, based at Oxford University, is presently undertaking his own experiments using some of the evidence in Hall's case. His family hopes the results will aid his appeal.

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