Jailed man refuses to admit murder

A SUFFOLK man trying to overturn his murder conviction has been warned he could be moved to a tougher jail for refusing to take part in an offender program that means admitting guilt, it has been claimed.

By Danielle Nuttall

A SUFFOLK man trying to overturn his murder conviction has been warned he could be moved to a tougher jail for refusing to take part in an offender program that means admitting guilt, it has been claimed.

Campaigners backing Simon Hall say he could be transferred to the same prison as Soham killer Ian Huntley if he does not participate in an offender behaviour program.

The 27-year-old, who was convicted of the murder of Capel St Mary pensioner Joan Albert, is currently serving a life sentence at Dovegate prison in Staffordshire.

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But his family fears he could be moved to another prison such as Wakefield - home to Huntley - by not agreeing to the program.

Offender behaviour programs are aimed at helping prisoners overcome their criminal habits but Hall's campaigners say he has nothing to correct because he is innocent.

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Hall's family spokeswoman Stephanie Bon, from Colchester, said: “As far as the offender treatment program goes, it is a fact that you have to admit to the crime to complete these.

“These courses are there to show you have remorse and you want to redeem yourself in the eyes of society.

“Simon has indeed been told that he could be moved, should he refuse to do these courses. Under no circumstances should an individual be forced to admit to a crime which he has not committed and this should not impact on their time in prison or jeopardize their future parole.

“The professional team around our campaign have provided us with immediate support and this issue is now under investigation.”

Hall, formerly of Hill House Road, Ipswich, and who worked in Colchester, has always maintained his innocence of the murder and his case is being reviewed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates alleged miscarriages of justice.

His campaign for freedom has been backed by a number of public figures including Ipswich MP Chris Mole.

Last night Mr Mole said: “I have written a letter to go to the prison management to ask if they are following normal procedures here and to ensure they are sensitive to Mr Hall's concerns that involvement in such a program might appear as an admission of guilt.

“I understand they may now be considering doing something different than what was otherwise planned.”

It had been reported Mr Mole would ask a Parliamentary question asking for a review of prison rules if the Home Office confirmed Hall would have to move prisons.

“I want to see what reply I get before deciding if that would be the appropriate course of action,” he said.

A spokesman for the Home Office said it did not comment on individual prisoners.

But he said: “Recommendations for offenders to take part in offender behaviour programmes are made during the sentence planning process. Offender behaviour programs are voluntary but refusal to take part in such a program could possibly affect a prisoner's incentive and earned privilege level.

“It's a scheme that allows prisoners to earn additional privileges through responsible behaviour, participation, hard work and other constructive activity.

“Prisoners who demonstrate good behaviour and maintain positive performances, privileges can be gained.”

The spokesman said the additional privileges could be anything such as being allowed to have a television in their room.

Mrs Albert was discovered dead by a neighbour in the hallway of her home in Boydlands, Capel, on December 16, 2001.

The widow had suffered stab wounds inflicted by a knife taken from the house.

Hall was convicted of the crime by a jury at Norwich Crown Court in February 2003.

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