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