University of Bristol Innocence Project: murder case to be heard at Court of Appeal
Press release issued: 6 December 2010
Simon Hall, convicted of the murder of 79-year-old Joan Albert in February 2003, had his case referred back to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) in October 2009 following a series of submissions by the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP). The appeal will begin on Tuesday 7 December 2010, and is scheduled to run over three days.
Significantly, Mr Hall’s case is the first case worked on by an innocence project in the UK that has been referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission and, indeed, to be heard at the Court of Appeal.
The University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP), the first Innocence Project in the UK, was established in January 2005 by Dr Michael Naughton, Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS).
The UoBIP is an extra-curricula pro bono legal clinic for undergraduate and postgraduate students who learn about criminal law by working on real cases of prisoners maintaining innocence under Dr Naughton’s academic supervision and guidance, where appropriate, from criminal appeal lawyers, forensic scientists, and others, also all working on a pro bono (free) basis.
Gabe Tan, now Research Assistant in the School of Law and Assistant Director of the UoBIP, headed the investigation into Mr Hall’s claim of innocence throughout its time with the University of Bristol. As a law student Gabe committed many hundreds of voluntary hours to produce various submissions to the CCRC over the years on the limitations of the fibre evidence claimed to link Mr Hall to the crime scene and the possible utility of new DNA techniques on biological samples found at the murder scene. She also unearthed information (which for legal reasons cannot be disclosed at this time) in previously unused evidence that may conclusively prove Mr Hall's factual innocence.
In the final BBC Rough Justice documentary, aired in April 2007, which followed Gabe and four other students from the UoBIP investigating Mr Hall’s case, Keir Starmer, now Director for Public Prosecutions, stated: “Simon's case is really peculiar, because there is no particular reason to suspect he is guilty of this offence, there are lots and lots of question marks. There is one crucial link and that's the fibre evidence, and that's what holds the whole case together. It's a very odd case, it's circumstantial, break that central piece of evidence and the case falls apart.”