Why did police ignore David Lace while Sean Hodgson was in jail for killing Teresa De Simone?

Deputy Chief Constable Simon Cole

Deputy Chief Constable Simon Cole

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter

IT WAS a case that saw the wrong man jailed for 27 years while the real killer confessed, was ignored and eventually killed himself.

So how could the police have got it so wrong? It is that question that the Independent Police Complaints Commission will now examine as it considers whether an investigation into the handing of the original case is needed.

In total seven people confessed to playing a part in the murder of Teresa De Simone – but only one was the real killer and his words fell on deaf ears.

Apart from Mr Hodgson and Lace, a further five people made admissions to police in the months before, during and after his conviction, two of whom were then found to be in prison when Teresa was murdered and could not have been involved.

The 1984 Investigation

Police have now established that a number of the seven were also ruled out after blood samples were taken that proved not to be the same type A blood that formed part of the killer’s profile.

No blood sample was ever taken from David Lace.

There are few other clues as to what if any action was taken in relation to the other confessions that were made.

What is clear, however, is that none was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the precursor to the Crown Prosecution Service, for their view on the strength of the claims.

According to the limited records, Hampshire police say they can only assume that detectives believed there were too many inconsistencies with the descriptions Lace gave and ended up disregarding what he said.

Such things as the wrong description of Teresa’s car, how many doors there were and what she was wearing were all inaccurate.

However, despite those inconsistencies the statement taken from Lace where he pleaded to go to prison for what he had done was buried in the case file without being pursued.

Watch videos of:

David Lace's Confession Statement
The 1984 Investigation
Who was David Lace?
The 2009 Investigation

Deputy Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “Yes, I would have expected a referral. We can find no evidence that it was done, which isn’t the same as saying that it wasn’t.

“A common law basis would have been to tell the authorities.

“They clearly made operational decisions based on the evidence they had available to them at the time, which didn’t include DNA evidence.

“Equally there is no getting away from the fact the wrong man was in prison.”

He added that only a handful of officers from the original team, that numbered more than 100, were still serving with Hampshire police, having either retired or died.

Although stopping short of a full apology to Sean Hodgson, the man wrongly convicted of the murder, DCC Cole said: “It is a matter of intense regret to us that he spent 27 years in prison for an offence he did not commit.”

The handling of the inquiry is now being reviewed by the IPCC after Hampshire police voluntarily submitted the case. “We want to be transparent and get an independent view on that,”

DCC Cole added.

A spokesman for the IPCC said: “An IPCC senior investigator is currently carrying out an in-depth independent assessment of the referral to decide whether or not any aspects of the case should be examined further. There is a great deal of information to take into consideration and it is anticipated that this assessment may take some time.”

Comments (10)

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12:40pm Fri 18 Sep 09

Condor Man says...

The Maguires, the Guildford 4, Birmingham 6.... the list is endless.
The Maguires, the Guildford 4, Birmingham 6.... the list is endless. Condor Man
  • Score: 0

1:07pm Fri 18 Sep 09

Paramjit Bahia says...

Sadly this is another egg on the police’s face. Because it is not the only case of British police stitching up an innocent person.
While many police officers are genuinely committed to doing the job properly, as an institution the police suffers from the culture of covering up its bad apples. Some are only interested in producing quick results to satisfy the media, which is good at breathing down their necks during high profile investigations. Professional cops should be able to stand those pressures.
Perhaps training of cops needs attention. Psychology should be securing justice instead of meeting targets of successful prosecutions.
Sadly this is another egg on the police’s face. Because it is not the only case of British police stitching up an innocent person. While many police officers are genuinely committed to doing the job properly, as an institution the police suffers from the culture of covering up its bad apples. Some are only interested in producing quick results to satisfy the media, which is good at breathing down their necks during high profile investigations. Professional cops should be able to stand those pressures. Perhaps training of cops needs attention. Psychology should be securing justice instead of meeting targets of successful prosecutions. Paramjit Bahia
  • Score: 0

3:52pm Fri 18 Sep 09

Adrian-Smith says...

Condor Man wrote:
The Maguires, the Guildford 4, Birmingham 6.... the list is endless.
Really? What percentage is that of all serious crime?
[quote][p][bold]Condor Man[/bold] wrote: The Maguires, the Guildford 4, Birmingham 6.... the list is endless. [/p][/quote]Really? What percentage is that of all serious crime? Adrian-Smith
  • Score: 0

4:07pm Fri 18 Sep 09

Linesman says...

It does not make the Police's job any easier when you get an innocent man confess to the crime, who then spends 27 years behind bars.
If he had not made a false confession maybe, just maybe, further investigations would have identified the real killer.




It does not make the Police's job any easier when you get an innocent man confess to the crime, who then spends 27 years behind bars. If he had not made a false confession maybe, just maybe, further investigations would have identified the real killer. Linesman
  • Score: 0

4:18pm Fri 18 Sep 09

News Fanatic says...

It is just as well we no longer have capital punishment because an innocent man could well have been executed.
It is just as well we no longer have capital punishment because an innocent man could well have been executed. News Fanatic
  • Score: 0

4:46pm Fri 18 Sep 09

Paramjit Bahia says...

Linesman wrote:
It does not make the Police's job any easier when you get an innocent man confess to the crime, who then spends 27 years behind bars. If he had not made a false confession maybe, just maybe, further investigations would have identified the real killer.
Yes that is very valid point.
But if the cops had done the job properly the wrongly convicted man would have been charged for wasting police time not of murder.
Considering the real killer had also made similar statement, proves the police officers made a massive mistake.
They also failed to inform the defence team that another man had also confessed to the same crime. Was that accident or it was done deliberately? Had they done that an innocent man would have been saved from miscarriage of justice.
[quote][p][bold]Linesman[/bold] wrote: It does not make the Police's job any easier when you get an innocent man confess to the crime, who then spends 27 years behind bars. If he had not made a false confession maybe, just maybe, further investigations would have identified the real killer. [/p][/quote]Yes that is very valid point. But if the cops had done the job properly the wrongly convicted man would have been charged for wasting police time not of murder. Considering the real killer had also made similar statement, proves the police officers made a massive mistake. They also failed to inform the defence team that another man had also confessed to the same crime. Was that accident or it was done deliberately? Had they done that an innocent man would have been saved from miscarriage of justice. Paramjit Bahia
  • Score: 0

4:51pm Fri 18 Sep 09

Paramjit Bahia says...

News Fanatic wrote:
It is just as well we no longer have capital punishment because an innocent man could well have been executed.
Yes that may have saved bit of bacon for the cops, otherwise there would have been no body left to be released
[quote][p][bold]News Fanatic[/bold] wrote: It is just as well we no longer have capital punishment because an innocent man could well have been executed.[/p][/quote]Yes that may have saved bit of bacon for the cops, otherwise there would have been no body left to be released Paramjit Bahia
  • Score: 0

5:14pm Fri 18 Sep 09

freemantlegirl2 says...

Linesman wrote:
It does not make the Police's job any easier when you get an innocent man confess to the crime, who then spends 27 years behind bars.
If he had not made a false confession maybe, just maybe, further investigations would have identified the real killer.




I agree, and I think we have to remember that things have moved on a bit since then, including the introduction of more and more sophisticated scientific evidence, the most important being DNA. This is a terrible miscarriage of justice but Sean Hodgson did give some accurate details in his confession. I think the police were pressured into 'getting their man' and this has led to such incidents. But as Adrian has pointed out, in the scheme of things it is a tiny percentage of cases. The modern police force of today are far different from their counterparts of 30 years ago. Lessons have been learned from such unsafe convictions that have led to very thorough investigations like the killers of Reece Jones etc. I don't think we properly appreciate how many hours goes into a huge investigation like that, especially now because it involves so much forensic work. Sadly, this can never be 'put right'. The De Simone's lost a daughter, Sean Hodgson and his family lost 27 years of his life, and the Lace family are having to deal with the fallout of a suicide and knowing that Mr Lace has now been discovered as a rapist/murderer. The whole thing is tragic, I'm sure the Police are as keen as anyone to ensure that this doesn't happen, and many procedures have been changed since that time. It is all very easy for us to apportion blame with 'hindsight' and what we now know. What should have happened is Sean Hodgson's lawyers should have had that information disclosed to them at the earliest opportunity, and Sean Hodgson's DNA should have been compared to the assailants much earlier. Those questions will have to be answered by Hampshire Police and I suspect he will have to be compensated for those delays.
[quote][p][bold]Linesman[/bold] wrote: It does not make the Police's job any easier when you get an innocent man confess to the crime, who then spends 27 years behind bars. If he had not made a false confession maybe, just maybe, further investigations would have identified the real killer. [/p][/quote]I agree, and I think we have to remember that things have moved on a bit since then, including the introduction of more and more sophisticated scientific evidence, the most important being DNA. This is a terrible miscarriage of justice but Sean Hodgson did give some accurate details in his confession. I think the police were pressured into 'getting their man' and this has led to such incidents. But as Adrian has pointed out, in the scheme of things it is a tiny percentage of cases. The modern police force of today are far different from their counterparts of 30 years ago. Lessons have been learned from such unsafe convictions that have led to very thorough investigations like the killers of Reece Jones etc. I don't think we properly appreciate how many hours goes into a huge investigation like that, especially now because it involves so much forensic work. Sadly, this can never be 'put right'. The De Simone's lost a daughter, Sean Hodgson and his family lost 27 years of his life, and the Lace family are having to deal with the fallout of a suicide and knowing that Mr Lace has now been discovered as a rapist/murderer. The whole thing is tragic, I'm sure the Police are as keen as anyone to ensure that this doesn't happen, and many procedures have been changed since that time. It is all very easy for us to apportion blame with 'hindsight' and what we now know. What should have happened is Sean Hodgson's lawyers should have had that information disclosed to them at the earliest opportunity, and Sean Hodgson's DNA should have been compared to the assailants much earlier. Those questions will have to be answered by Hampshire Police and I suspect he will have to be compensated for those delays. freemantlegirl2
  • Score: 0

7:08pm Fri 18 Sep 09

King Mush says...

News Fanatic wrote:
It is just as well we no longer have capital punishment because an innocent man could well have been executed.
I was waiting for this inevitable cliche.


Shame we couldnt have strung up the likes of Brady, Hindley, Roberts,Black,Whitin
g and many more 100% guilty monsters- many of whom re-offend when let off early


DNA + irrefutable strong evidence should lead to the black cap but we all know it's impossible to reinstate


[quote][p][bold]News Fanatic[/bold] wrote: It is just as well we no longer have capital punishment because an innocent man could well have been executed.[/p][/quote]I was waiting for this inevitable cliche. Shame we couldnt have strung up the likes of Brady, Hindley, Roberts,Black,Whitin g and many more 100% guilty monsters- many of whom re-offend when let off early DNA + irrefutable strong evidence should lead to the black cap but we all know it's impossible to reinstate King Mush
  • Score: 0

8:21pm Fri 18 Sep 09

Bill-B says...

King Mush wrote:
News Fanatic wrote: It is just as well we no longer have capital punishment because an innocent man could well have been executed.
I was waiting for this inevitable cliche. Shame we couldnt have strung up the likes of Brady, Hindley, Roberts,Black,Whitin g and many more 100% guilty monsters- many of whom re-offend when let off early DNA + irrefutable strong evidence should lead to the black cap but we all know it's impossible to reinstate
Hear hear or is it here here. Iether way I agree.
[quote][p][bold]King Mush[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]News Fanatic[/bold] wrote: It is just as well we no longer have capital punishment because an innocent man could well have been executed.[/p][/quote]I was waiting for this inevitable cliche. Shame we couldnt have strung up the likes of Brady, Hindley, Roberts,Black,Whitin g and many more 100% guilty monsters- many of whom re-offend when let off early DNA + irrefutable strong evidence should lead to the black cap but we all know it's impossible to reinstate [/p][/quote]Hear hear or is it here here. Iether way I agree. Bill-B
  • Score: 0

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