Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

DNA may free man after 27 years

Teresa De Simone
Miss De Simone was found strangled and partially clothed

A man jailed 27 years ago for murdering a woman could be released from prison after DNA evidence was reviewed.

Sean Hodgson, 57, is serving a life sentence for killing Teresa De Simone, 22. She was found strangled in her car in Southampton in December 1979.

The case has now been sent to appeal over claims tests on semen found at the scene prove it was not Hodgson's DNA.

The BBC understands the Crown Prosecution Service will not contest the appeal on 18 March.

Hodgson, who is also known as Robert Graham Hodgson, would be one of the longest-serving victims of a miscarriage of justice if released.

He is anxious because he is going to be facing the outside world for the first time in a large number of years
Julian Young, Hodgson's lawyer

Miss De Simone's partially clothed body was found in the back seat of her Ford Escort in a car park beneath the Tom Tackle pub where she worked part-time as a barmaid.

She also worked full-time for Southern Gas.

Hodgson made various confessions to the murder but his defence said he was a pathological liar and the confessions were untrue.

Hodgson's lawyer, Julian Young, said it was hoped his client would be freed next Wednesday.

"He is obviously pleased the matter is going forward.

"He is anxious because he is going to be facing the outside world for the first time in a large number of years.

"He will have to make a life and reorganise his life for the future."

Murder scene
Miss De Simone's body was found near the pub where she worked

At his trial at Winchester Crown Court he pleaded not guilty to a single charge of murder.

The jury found him guilty in 1982 and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The prosecution had also been supported during the trial by the fact that blood type analysis available at the time showed that material recovered at the scene belonged to a man with blood of either group A or AB.

Mr Hodgson was in that category along with roughly a third of the male population.

DNA tests were not available at the time, but after requests from Mr Hodgson's legal team Hampshire Constabulary and the Forensic Science Service undertook a comprehensive forensic case review in November 2008.

This included DNA testing on samples collected at the time of the murder.

There is a real possibility that the court will consider the conviction unsafe and quash it
Criminal Cases Review Commission

Following this review the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) decided to refer the case to the Court of Appeal after two days - making it one of the fastest in the commission's history.

The CCRC said: "In light of new evidence available, the commission has decided to refer Mr Hodgson's conviction to the Court of Appeal because it believes there is a real possibility that the court will consider the conviction unsafe and quash it."

The CCRC has also contacted the Director of Public Prosecutions to discuss the possibility of similar murder cases being reviewed in light of DNA evidence.

In a statement Hampshire police said Mr Hodgson's case has been "comprehensively and extensively reviewed and re-examined".

It added that DNA evidence had arisen which was not available at the time of Mr Hodgson's conviction.



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