SEAN Hodgson has been freed after 27-years in prison for the murder of Southampton woman Teresa De Simone.

His first words outside the court were: "I feel ecstatic, it's great to be free."

The conviction was quashed at the High Court in London this morning.

DNA evidence cast fresh doubts over the 1982 conviction.

However it was revealed today in court that Mr Hodgson could have been released 11 years ago.

In 1998, an application for appeal was made to test any remaining forensic material for DNA samples.

However, a team acting on the behalf of Mr Hodgson was told there was no such material to be tested.

An internal investigation at the Forensic Science Service has already been carried out recently, as a result of these new proceedings.

It concluded they could give no explanation because they could find no record of the request ever having been made.

The service was branded a disgrace by Peter Hodgson, Sean's brother.

Mr Hodgson, now 58, is one of the longest serving victims of miscarriage of justice in the UK.

Teresa De Simone's body was found in her car at the back of the Tom Tackle pub in Commercial Road, Southampton, in 1979.

Daily Echo: See tomorrow's Southern Daily Echo for the complete story.

Mr Hodgson did confess to the murder, however when the case came to trial, the defence argued that he was a pathological liar.

However at today's hearing, the original conviction was branded unsafe by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, Mr Justice Irwin and Mr Justice Wyn Williams.

The prosecution case against Hodgson had always maintained that whoever sexually assaulted Miss De Simone, was also her killer. The re-examination of forensic evidence using modern day DNA techniques proves Hodgson was not the man who raped her, said Lord Judge.

"The new DNA evidence has therefore demolished the case for the prosecution," he added.

"We can but hope her killer can be identified and brought to justice."

Hampshire Constabulary has confirmed that it is reopening the investigation into the murder of Miss De Simone.