Suffolk: Simon Hall murder appeal judgement delayed

JUDGES presiding over Simon Hall’s appeal against his conviction for murdering Joan Albert today delayed their judgement to consider complicated scientific evidence.

Hall, formerly of Capel St Mary and Ipswich, was at the Royal Courts of Justice in London to hear the three judges reserve their decision until a later date, which has yet to be specified.

The 33-year-old was convicted of murder at Norwich Crown Court in 2003. Mrs Albert, 79, was found stabbed to death at her home in Boydlands, Capel St Mary, on December 16, 2001.

Hall’s legal team and the Crown presented their submissions on the third and final day of the hearing.

The court had previously heard Hall’s conviction relied on the rarity and identical nature of fibre evidence found at Mrs Albert’s home and at Hall’s parent’s house in Snowcroft, where he was living at the time.

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Michael Mansfield QC, representing Hall, said the trial jury had been inadvertently misled over how rare and indistinguishable the fibres found at the two locations were.

He added that the judge at Hall’s trial, Mrs Justice Rafferty, had told the jury in her summing up, on something like 17 occasions, that the samples were rare and indistinguishable.

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Mr Mansfield said: “By the end of the summing up this case was cut and dried on that basis. That’s why we say now the position has changed dramatically from that. It’s no longer cut and dried.”

Earlier in the appeal expert textile analyst Tiernan Coyle said he had used a technique called First Derivative to establish there were differences between the fibres found at Boydlands and Snowcroft.

Talking about the fresh evidence Mr Mansfield told the court yesterday: “Might it have made a difference to a reasonable jury properly directed?

“We now say this is a case which again amply satisfies the final criteria or test. We say here that the opinion of Mr Coyle, supported by research done by his assistant, might have made a difference to this jury had they heard about it.”

However, Simon Spence QC, representing the Crown, said an expert from the Forensic Science Service had used two different techniques to confirm the original finding that the fibres were identical. He added an independent analyst had backed this conclusion.

Furthermore he cast doubt on the application of the First Derivative technique in this case.

Mr Spence said: “The further investigation that has been done has, if anything, strengthened the assertion that these fibres have a common origin, and putting it bluntly Mr Coyle is in error.”

Hall was supported at his appeal by family and friends including his wife Stephanie, his adoptive parents Lynne and Phil, and his brother Shaun. Hall’s mother Bernadette, other brother Kelvin, and sister Rachel, all of whom Hall traced through his adoption records last year, were also in court.

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