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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
New forensic doubts over murder
by Nic Rigby
BBC News, Norwich

Simon Hall
The case has been sent to the Criminal Cases Review Commission
A forensic expert has raised new doubts over the conviction an office worker for murdering a 79-year-old widow.

Dr Peter Bull, of Oxford University, said the fibres, linking Simon Hall to the murder of Joan Albert, from Suffolk, raised concerns in his mind.

He told BBC News he was very surprised that the fibres did not appear to include any glass particles from the broken window used to gain entry.

"Glass should have been associated with (the fibres)," he said.

Mrs Albert, from Capel St Mary, near the Suffolk/Essex border, was murdered in the early hours in December 2001.

Joan Albert
Joan Albert was found dead in the hallway of her home

Police said Hall, from Ipswich, who is well-built and more than 6ft tall, got in through a 14-inch wide broken window.

At his trial, the jury was told fingerprints, footprints and DNA evidence found at the murder scene did not match Hall's.

But detectives believed fibres, from black trousers, found at the scene, in his car and in a cupboard at his parent's home, tied him to the murder.

This is disputed by Hall's family who say he never wore those type of trousers.

Now, after being approached by BBC News, Dr Bull has looked over the judge's summing up of the case, and expressed concern over the absence of glass particles.

He said the interpretation by the prosecution fibres expert "could have been taken another way".

Simon Hall's mother Lynne Hall looks at correspondence from her son
We've always been concerned about the window issue, for instance with Simon's size, and why wasn't he cut?
Lynne Hall, Simon Hall's mother

"I am very surprised that the very distinctive type of glass (from the broken window) was not found anywhere else.

"If there was no attempt to clean up the fibres, there would have been glass there as well."

He added: "I am also concerned as to how on earth he (Hall) was able to get through the window."

Dr Bull stressed his views come from studying the summation and he had no criticism of the judge, forensic experts in the case or the police.

Lynne Hall, Hall's mother, welcomed the Dr Bull's views on the case: "We've always been concerned about the window issue, for instance with Simon's size, and why wasn't he cut?"

BBC News has also spoken to Jamie Barker, the last man to see Hall, before he is said to have killed Mrs Albert.

Previous conviction

At the trial, police said Hall had murdered her at some point between 0530 and 0615 GMT - the only time period when Hall did not have an alibi.

Mr Barker, 24, said Hall dropped him off at Myrtle Road, Ipswich, some time between 0530 and 0545 GMT.

He said Hall would not have had time to then drive the nine miles to Capel St Mary (a roughly 20 minute drive), climb over fences, break into the house, murder Mrs Albert, climb back and change his clothes before driving back to his parent's home in Capel for 0615 GMT.

He said that because Hall, who had a previous conviction for violence, had been drinking he was driving quite slowly at "about 20mph" which meant the journey may have taken longer than 20 minutes.

"There is no possible way, given the timings, that it could have happened that way," said Mr Barker.

Suffolk Police said it was not appropriate for the force to comment in the circumstances.

In April, Mrs Albert's family said the trial evidence had been enough to convince the jury and sufficient to convince the family that justice had been done.

Murder conviction doubts raised
19 Apr 05 |  Suffolk
Murder accused takes the stand
19 Feb 03 |  England
Murder jury hears fibre evidence
17 Feb 03 |  England
Fibre 'match' in murder case
11 Feb 03 |  England

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