Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

Adjusting to life after 27 years in jail

Sean Hodgson
Sean Hodgson walked free from the Court of Appeal in March

For Sean Hodgson, life on the outside after spending 27 years in jail for a crime he did not commit has been a bewildering experience.

Since his release last March, he has sent his first e-mail, been shocked at the attitudes of some teenagers and tried to cope with the pace of life compared to that of the 1970s.

His conviction for killing Teresa De Simone, 22, in Southampton in 1979 was quashed after new DNA evidence came to light.

Mr Hodgson confessed to her murder at the time of the original inquiry but pleaded not guilty at his trial in 1982, where his defence team said he was a pathological liar.

A new DNA probe in 2008 revealed David Lace as the suspected killer.

In his first in-depth interview since his release, Mr Hodgson told BBC Radio 5 live: "It felt like I was walking into another world again, I couldn't believe it.

"Because I've been fighting so long, when it eventually came I didn't know whether to take it or run back inside.

"It is all a lot faster, people are different, teenagers are different on the streets, they don't want to go to work.

"I left school at 14 and had to go to work.

"You go into pubs and people say 'I don't worry, I get £160 a week from the dole and the rent gets paid for me'.

"I ask them, 'you don't want a job?' and they say 'I don't want a job'."

Mr Hodgson, who suffers from ill-health, has enrolled on a computing course and has now sent his first e-mails.

"I have only been used to phones in prison, it's a newfangled world to me," he said.

He admitted life in prison was tough and said he made five attempts to commit suicide.

David Lace
This picture of Lace was taken when he was about 15 years old

"It's not like today when murder is two-a-penny, when I was on remand in Brixton there was probably only 10 or 12 people in there for murder."

But he said the turning point came when he contacted solicitor Julian Young in 2008.

"When the first DNA result came back he [Julian] lit up, when the second came back he said 'you're out'."

Mr Hodgson points the finger of blame for the miscarriage of justice at the police officers who investigated the case.

"How could someone make these kind of mistakes?" he said.

"If they've done it to me they've done it to others."

In October, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said an inquiry into Hampshire police's handling of the original inquiry would "serve no purpose".

Teresa De Simone
Teresa De Simone was working part-time at the Tom Tackle pub

In a statement, Deputy Chief Constable Simon Cole, of Hampshire police, said: "Mr Hodgson tendered several confessions, to a number of independent people, including a priest and a prison officer, prior to police interviewing him and while serving time in prison for other offences.

"At no time over the last 30 years, either during the original investigation, or subsequently during the appeal process, has any indication of police officer wrongdoing or misconduct been made by Mr Hodgson or his representative."

Mr Hodgson has also found support from others in his position, including former Birmingham Six prisoner Paddy Hill, whom he speaks to on the phone regularly.

Mr Hill spent 16 years in jail before his conviction for a series of 1970s Birmingham pub bombings was quashed at the Appeal Court in London in 1991.



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