New hope for murder trial start

FORENSIC scientists could give evidence via a 4,000-mile video link to ensure the trial of the man accused of murdering Suffolk millionaire Tony Fetherston finally takes place.

By Richard Smith

FORENSIC scientists could give evidence via a 4,000-mile video link to ensure the trial of the man accused of murdering Suffolk millionaire Tony Fetherston finally takes place.

A last-ditch attempt is being made to start the trial of Joseph Hazel in March before a judge rules that he has been in prison too long without the case coming to court and should be released.

Hazel, a decorator in his late 20s, has been in jail in Basseterre, the capital of St Kitts, for more than 900 days. He was charged with murder in June 2001 but his crown court trial has been postponed five times.


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Now, following top-level Government intervention, there is a plan to cut the trial costs by allowing some forensic scientists to stay in London and give evidence via a video link to the crown court on the small Caribbean island.

The possible breakthrough was revealed yesterdayon the eve of the fourth anniversary of the death of the 65-year-old from Woodbridge. Mr Fetherston was shot dead at his holiday bungalow in Basseterre on January 26, 2000.

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However, a Foreign Office spokesman said a date had still not been set for the trial and they were awaiting a decision from the judge on how the trial should proceed.

His widow, Margaret Fetherston, said: ''We are still awaiting further developments. I had a call two days ago to say they are looking at a video link. This will be for a few of the forensic people to cut down on the costs because otherwise I do not think there will ever be a trial.

''Now it is down to how much the video link will cost and they are going to have a trial run to see if it works. The judge, I think, has said the trial has to be this session and March is what he is saying.''

The trial has been delayed for numerous reasons, one of which was the high cost for the Caribbean country of flying forensic scientists and Mrs Fetherston from England to give evidence in a trial which could last two weeks. Denis Merchant, director of public prosecutions on St Kitts, has said the DNA evidence was the most important part of his case.

Mrs Fetherston, speaking about the four years since her husband died, said: ''It is terrible. It is really appalling but there we are, we have lived with it this long and I suppose we will have to carry on and hope to hear something more positive.

''The anniversaries come of his death and they go and it seems unreal, that is the honest truth. I cannot believe four years have gone by, it is just incredible.

''I have just been sitting here waiting. I cannot make any plans and it puts your life on hold.''

Mr Fetherston, born in Frinton, was a former Commodore of the Frinton and Walton Yacht Club. A former RAF pilot, he was deputy chairman of the Thomas Meadows International freight forwarding company before he retired aged 52. The couple had their wedding at Dedham church and were married for 35 years.

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