Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Ipswich murder case appeal moves forward

Simon and Stephanie Hall
Hall's wife Stephanie has been fighting to clear his name

An Appeal Court hearing for a man jailed for the murder of a 79-year-old in 2001 has moved a step closer with a hearing before a leading judge.

Simon Hall, 32, from Ipswich, was jailed for life in 2003 for murdering Joan Albert, of Capel St Mary, Suffolk.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has referred the case to the Court of Appeal over concerns over the scientific evidence.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said a full hearing was expected in June.

Mr Hall's barrister Michael Mansfield QC told the Lord Judge that investigations into fibres found at the scene of the crime were being carried out ahead of a full appeal hearing.

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

DNA on those fibres, he told the court, could cast serious doubt on the "safety" of Hall's conviction, undermining scientific evidence given at his original trial.

Jurors at his trial were told that fingerprints, footprints and DNA evidence found at the scene of the murder did not match Hall's.

But fibres from a pair of black trousers, in his car and in a cupboard at his parent's home, linked him to the murder, Crown lawyers alleged.

Hall, jailed for life in 2003, has always maintained he had nothing to do with the stabbing of Mrs Albert in December 2001.

He appealed unsuccessfully against his conviction in April 2004.

But his case has now been referred back to the Court of Appeal by the CCRC, the independent body that investigates suspected miscarriages of justice.

Mr Mansfield said: "This is an exceptional case. It absolutely depends on the fibre evidence."

He said that the fibres now being investigated had come from the windowsill of Mrs Albert's home, which the assailant is said to have smashed.

Giving directions for the upcoming appeal, Lord Judge said reports from fibre experts and DNA investigations should be finished within eight weeks' time.

"It is possible that the DNA evidence may be conclusive one way or another," he added.

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