Murder trial hears of grisly find
NEIGHBOURS of murdered pensioner Joan Albert have relived in court the moment they discovered her frail body lying in the hallway of her Suffolk home.On the opening day of the murder trial, friends of the 79-year-old widow told of how they entered her home on the morning of December 16, 2001, when she failed to answer their telephone phone calls.
By Danielle Nuttall
NEIGHBOURS of murdered pensioner Joan Albert have relived in court the moment they discovered her frail body lying in the hallway of her Suffolk home.
On the opening day of the murder trial, friends of the 79-year-old widow told of how they entered her home on the morning of December 16, 2001, when she failed to answer their telephone phone calls.
Inside, they saw the pensioner's body lying at the foot of the staircase, her arms outstretched and blood coming from her stomach.
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A large kitchen knife was lying on the floor, and broken glass at the bottom of the kitchen window.
Simon Hall, 25, of Hill House Road, Ipswich, has denied murdering the pensioner on December 16, 2001.
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Giving evidence at the trial yesterday, neighbour Hugh Twose, who had known Mrs Albert for 14 years, said he had gone round to check on her after getting a spare key from another neighbour.
"I saw her body at the foot of the stairs. She was fully outstretched but had her arms up in the air," he told the jury.
"I approached the body and I put my finger on her face to see if she was cold. It was cold. It was quite obvious that she was dead."
Mr Twose said he asked another neighbour to call an ambulance before following his wife into the kitchen.
"It was then that I noticed that the blind was out of position," he told the court.
"As soon as I touched the blind I saw the broken glass and realised there were more sinister circumstances. I noticed a knife. It was a large kitchen knife," he added.
Mr Twose's wife, Jean, who had accompanied her husband into the house, said she had seen blood around Mrs Albert's stomach and on the front of her nightdress.
The court has heard that Mrs Albert had suffered at least five stab wounds inflicted with a carving knife from her kitchen when her body was found.
They included a 17cm deep chest wound and a 14cm wound to her stomach.
The court also heard that clothing fibres found at the house of Mrs Albert were an "extremely strong" match with those found in the wardrobe of her alleged killer.
Witness told the jury yesterday how Mrs Albert had installed CCTV cameras by the front door of her home after being troubled by youths.
The court heard evidence from neighbour Terence Dedman who told how he once pursued a gang of teenagers into shops in an attempt to identify them.
He said the main target of vandalism at Mrs Albert's property was a bird table in the front garden.
Other neighbours of the pensioner, who lived on her own, told the court yesterday how they heard noises outside on the night of her death.
Mark Tatton told the court: "I remember a scratching noise. I did open my eyes. I couldn't see the clock because I didn't have my glasses.
"The noise appeared to be coming from somewhere near the shed. I got the impression it was something scratching the concrete."
Opening the trial yesterday, Graham Parkins QC, prosecuting, said Mrs Albert's attack appeared to have been "sudden and can probably be described as both savage and brutal."
Mr Parkins said Hall killed the pensioner during a burglary which went wrong. Fearing detection he stabbed her, he said.
Mr Parkins said the pensioner was first stabbed in the back, then fell to the floor, and was stabbed in the chest and stomach.
The prosecutor said: "Despite careful attempts by this man to cover his tracks, involving getting rid of items of clothing and footwear he was wearing on the night Mrs Albert was killed and trying to create for himself a false alibi, he left behind at various locations in her house, on a fence outside, on her body itself, a number of fibres which clearly had come from an item of clothing."
He said more than 1,000 black fibres were found at her home, on her body and on a kitchen window where the intruder broke in.
They were "indistinguishable" from a "vast number" found in his bedroom wardrobe at his parents' home, at the flat he later shared with a girlfriend, and also in his Citroen and Audi cars, he said.
Mr Parkins said Hall, who lived at the time with his parents in Capel St Mary, knew Mrs Albert as his mother did shopping errands for the pensioner and walked her dog.
He added: "He was in a position to know much about Joan Albert and formed his own view as to her worth, as he told a girlfriend that Joan came from a wealthy family."
Giving evidence yesterday, Mrs Albert's niece Glynis Dzundza, said Mrs Albert had always been very proud of her appearance, and had worn a lot of jewellery.
Her collection included an engagement ring with a large diamond which she wore every day.
"I know for a fact it was good jewellery," she said.
In a written statement read out in court, Lavinia Broome, another niece of the pensioner, said Mrs Albert had collected a number of antiques and nice furniture in her home over the years.
Hall, who was adopted, was arrested in July 2002.
The last person to speak to Mrs Albert was her brother, at 10pm the night before she was found dead.
Hall told police he had returned home at about 6.30am on the morning of December 16 following a night out at pubs and at Liquid nightclub in Ipswich.
The trial continues.