I KNEW he killed someone, but I didn’t know it was Teresa. That’s what David Lace’s sister, Andrina Foster exclusively told the Daily Echo last night as the 43-year-old spoke about the moment her big brother revealed he was a killer.
Mrs Foster said she did not ask her brother who he had murdered, when it happened, or where, and never told anyone about his 1988 confession.
That was until three months ago, when Hampshire police called to say David was the prime suspect in the 1979 murder of Teresa De Simone.
She told them about the conversation with her brother and provided a sample of her DNA, which proved without doubt that David had strangled Teresa.
Asked by the Echo if she regretted not telling the police about her brother’s confession 21 years ago, she replied: “I’d have had nothing to say to them.
“He did tell me he did it, but he didn’t tell me that he’d killed Teresa. He didn’t even say it was in Southampton.”
"When he came out he tried to make a go of it and he didn’t. He still had that guilt for all those years because no one believed him and then he killed himself"David Lace's sister, Andrina Foster
Her 52-year-old half-brother, John Lace, yesterday said that if he had been in the same situation he would have acted differently.
“All I know is what the police said, that there was a comment made by David to Andrina,” he said.
“The exact details I don’t know and to be honest I don’t care because something should have been done about it then, because I’m sure I would have done.
“I would have pushed it until he actually told me.
No one makes comments like that and then just leaves it, that is not a normal conversation. He told my sister and she should have dealt with it in a different way.”
Asked if she tried to push David for more information, Mrs Foster said: “No. I didn’t want to, I had no reason.”
Asked if she was afraid that her brother would be sent to prison again, she said: “It wasn’t like that.”
“No one was in that situation with me. It was partly because he was my brother… and I didn’t believe him.
She added: “How people react is up to them, they are not in my position and they have not gone through what I’ve gone through. Until they do they’ve got no right to judge me.”
David was this week named by police as the man who brutally raped and murdered the gas board clerk in Southampton 30 years ago.
He was just 17 when he strangled the 22-year-old with the passenger seatbelt of her car behind the Tom Tackle pub, in Commercial Road, in December 1979.
With another man, Sean Hodgson, already wrongfully convicted of the murder, David told detectives in 1983 that he was Teresa’s real killer and could no longer live with what he had done.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Det Chief Insp Phil McTavish revealed David had made another confession five years later when he returned to Portsmouth to visit family, just months before he committed suicide.
“He made one disclosure at this time to the effect that he had done some bad things in his time, like the post office robbery and also was responsible for killing someone in Southampton when things got out of hand some years ago when he was young.”
Speaking from her home in Warwickshire, Mrs Foster refused to elaborate on the exact details of that conversation with David.
“I haven’t told nobody,” she said.
“The only person I told was the DC investigating this case. I told them everything they needed to know to help them with the case.”
Brothers Geoff and John Lace told the Echo they had grown apart from their “skinny, ginger-haired” brother and spoke of their disbelief that David was capable of such a violent crime.
Mrs Foster said she was close to David right up until his death and that she would often visit him at the Southsea hotel he helped manage.
She was one of the family members who knew David had been sent to Dartmoor prison after holding up a Swanwick post office at knifepoint.
Upon his release he began a new life as a fisherman in Brixham, Devon, where he had lived for three years during his childhood.
It was only by chance that he reappeared in Portsmouth in 1988 when his boat had to dock for repairs.
David visited many of his five siblings, but he only told his little sister about the guilt tormenting him.
“When he came out he tried to make a go of it and he didn’t. He still had that guilt for all those years because no one believed him and then he killed himself,” she said.
Asked if she reflected on that conversation after he committed suicide just a few months later, Mrs Foster said: “No, because I was more upset at the fact he’d killed himself.
Asked why she thought David killed himself, she replied: “Guilt.”