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Family of David Lace talk about shock revelations on Teresa De Simone's murder

Family of David Lace talk about shock revelations on Teresa De Simone's murder

David Lace

Geoff and John Lace

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Feature Writer

THE family of the man who brutally raped and murdered Teresa De Simone have spoken about their “monster” brother.

Speaking to the Daily Echo last night, they offered a heartfelt apology to the parents of the gas board clerk killed in Southampton 30 years ago.

Today John and Geoff Lace were still coming to terms with the fact that their “skinny, ginger-haired” brother David was a murderer.

David Lace was just 17 when he strangled 22-year-old Teresa with the passenger seatbelt of her car behind the Tom Tackle pub, in Commercial Road.

Just hours after police held a press conference to confirm David was the killer, his older brother John said: “He is a murderer and he is a monster, we cannot beat about the bush.

“He is also my brother, I have got to feel for him. To finally take his own life because he couldn’t live with what he had done shows that he was suffering.”

Daily Echo: Click below to see a video of today's headlines in sixty seconds

David committed suicide in Brixham, Devon, in December 1988, six years after he confessed to police that he had killed Teresa.

His brothers said they had no idea he was capable of such a vicious act and revealed they had been victims of a traumatic childhood at the hands of their violent father.

John, 52, said: “He was only 5ft 5in with ginger hair, freckles and pale skin.

He was a slim lad, I just can’t think that he would be physically or mentally strong enough to do that type of thing.”

Younger brother Geoff, 45, added: “It might sound cold hearted, but I think he took the coward’s way out.

He didn’t face the music, instead he committed suicide because of what he’d done.” The pair said their first thoughts were with Teresa’s parents, Mary and Michael Sedotti.

“In time I would like to sit opposite Teresa’s parents, look them in the eye and say sorry,” John said.

“Teresa’s parents have been dealing with this for 30 years, we have just started dealing with it.

We have now got to live with the fact it was our brother that did it.”

David was one of six children born and raised in the Cosham area of Portsmouth and named after his father. The four brothers and two sisters suffered regular beatings, John and Geoff told the Echo.

They said that when David was aged four his father stabbed their mother, Esther, in the stomach six times.

She survived the attack, but their father was sent away to a psychiatric hospital in Southsea.

They never saw him again, but believe he started a new family upon his release, before dying in Manchester.

John, the eldest in the family and David’s half-brother, recalled: “David was a normal child. Sure he had a temper at times, but who doesn’t?”

Their mother remarried and all of the children adopted the name of their stepfather, Bill Lace, a retired chief petty officer in the Navy.

In 1973, David, then aged 11, and two of his brothers, were sent to live at the British Seamen’s Boys Home in Brixham.

Geoff, who is today a security guard in Portsmouth, described David as a “normal” teenager who played the bugle and enjoyed sailing and carpentry.

The brothers eventually returned to Portsmouth to finish their schooling, but soon after went their separate ways.

John eventually caught up with his brother again in 1982, the year Sean Hodgson was found guilty of murdering Teresa by a jury at Winchester Crown Court.

David never mentioned the string of burglaries he had been convicted for, let alone killing Teresa.

About a year later, in September 1983, David was arrested for a series of burglaries in Portsmouth.

He told the officers that he had killed Teresa, could no longer live with what he had done and wanted to be locked up.

Watch videos of:

Teresa's parents give their reaction
David Lace's Confession Statement
The 1983 Investigation
Who was David Lace?
The 2009 Investigation

With Hodgson in prison and several inconsistencies in his statement, police dismissed David’s confession.

He served nine months for the burglaries, but soon after was back before the courts in June 1984 for holding up a post office in Swanwick at knifepoint.

Neither John nor Geoff knew that their brother had been sent to Dartmoor prison, or that he was working as a fisherman in Brixham after his release, until he suddenly reappeared in Portsmouth in October 1988.

Police yesterday claimed David had returned to his birthplace to say goodbye to his family, but the brothers told the Echo it was pure chance that he ended up back in Hampshire that autumn.

“The ship he was working on had actually docked in Portsmouth for repairs,” John said.

“It was then that he told us about the burglaries and the post office, but we didn’t make a big deal about it. I asked him to come back for Christmas and stay with us.

“I phoned him back in early December to see if he was still coming for Christmas, but he said ‘no’. I asked him why and he said ‘because you don’t know what I’ve done’. I had no idea what he was talking about and assumed it was another burglary.”

On December 9, just a few days after that last conversation, the family was told David had killed himself at his home in Brixham. John travelled with his stepfather to the sleepy Devon town and were informed that David had been found with a Tesco plastic bag over his head.

As they laid David to rest at Kingston Cemetery, opposite the family home in George Street, they were convinced he had been the victim of foul play.

Almost 21 years had passed when David’s five siblings were contacted by Hampshire police in June with shocking news that would change their lives forever.

Geoff said: “When they said it was to do with David my response was that he had not committed suicide – that he’d been killed. When they told me that my brother had confessed to the murder I nearly collapsed,” he said.

“I told them that I’d do anything I could to help them.”

On Tuesday, detectives finally confirmed the news they had been dreading for almost three months – that David had killed Teresa.

Asked if he could ever forgive his brother, John replied: “I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t, but I’d have to forgive him. As hard as it would be to do, he is family.”

With Hodgson in prison and several inconsistencies in his statement, police dismissed David’s confession. He served nine months for the burglaries, but soon after was back before the courts in June 1984 for holding up a post office in Swanwick at knifepoint.

Neither John nor Geoff knew that their brother had been sent to Dartmoor prison, or that he was working as a fisherman in Brixham after his release, until he suddenly reappeared in Portsmouth in October 1988.

Police yesterday claimed David had returned to his birthplace to say goodbye to his family, but the brothers told the Echo it was pure chance that he ended up back in Hampshire that autumn.

“The ship he was working on had actually docked in Portsmouth for repairs,” John said. “He went to mum’s house, she fed him, gave him a bath and did some washing for him. I had a phone call to say he was there and dad brought him up to my house. It was then that he told us about the burglaries and the post office. I suppose we were shocked, but we didn’t make a big deal about it. I asked him to come back for Christmas and stay with us.

“I phoned him back in early December to see if he was still coming for Christmas, but he said ‘no’. I asked him why and he said ‘because you don’t know what I’ve done’. I had no idea what he was talking about and assumed it was another burglary.”

On December 9, just a few days after that last conversation, the family was told David had killed himself at his home in Brixham.

John travelled with his stepfather to the sleepy Devon town and were informed that David had been found with a Tesco plastic bag over his head.

As they laid David to rest at Kingston Cemetery, opposite the family home in George Street, they were convinced he had actually been the victim of foul play.

John said: “He was buried opposite our family home so that mum could look out the lounge window, see his grave and know that he was there.”

Almost 21 years had passed when David’s five siblings were contacted by Hampshire police in June with shocking news that would change their lives forever.

Geoff was at work when police called to say that he could be an important witness to an historic crime.

“When they said it was to do with David my response was that he had not committed suicide – that he’d been killed. When they told me that my brother had confessed to the murder I nearly collapsed,” he said.

“I told them that I’d do anything I could to help them. They took DNA from all of us and that is how they tracked him.”

On Tuesday, detectives finally confirmed the news they had been dreading for almost three months – that David had killed Teresa.

Asked if he could ever forgive his brother, John replied: “I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t, but I’d have to forgive him. As hard as it would be to do, he is family.”

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