Capel St Mary: A leading psychologist has revealed Simon Hall’s mental health had deteriorated in the year before his death at Wayland Prison on Sunday
PUBLISHED: 13:25 25 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:32 25 February 2014
A leading criminal psychologist has given an insight into the likely state of Simon Hall’s frayed mind before his death in prison.
Hall’s mental health was said to have deteriorated over the past year, particularly since he confessed last August to killing 79-year-old Joan Albert at her home in Capel St Mary.
Hall was found dead in his cell at Wayland prison, near Thetford, on Sunday. Police have said they are not treating his death as suspicious.
The 36-year-old denied murdering Mrs Albert for 11 years before admitting his guilt while he was at Hollesley Bay open prison, near Woodbridge.
Mike Berry, a forensic psychologist who has worked with offenders in prisons and with the legal profession, said Hall’s confession was likely to have an impact on his fragile psyche.
Mr Berry said: “The reason people often go into denial is because they are horrified by the nature of the offence they have committed.
“There is research which suggests some murderers often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because they are horrified by what they have done. Most murderers often know their victims, so you can understand that shock.
“What you have to ask is do these guys lie to protect (the feelings of) somebody who is important to them? Is he protecting a loved one?
“He could have been fighting the case because that was one way of keeping sane in an insane world, as it is a way of marking time until they get out. One thing you often find is they lie for so long they actually believe the stories they have made up.
“He could have become very depressed. I would think that having lied for so long, to then face up to the truth you would more than likely end up being very depressed and anxious. Anxious about deceiving people, anxious about the way you are perceived by other prisoners.
“After he turns around and says ‘I have done it’ they are going to be annoyed because they believed in him and that’s going to cause some anger, particularly if he’s killed a 79-year-old. Once the system has won you can feel very depressed by the whole process.”
Mr Berry believes Hall would have felt subject to massive internal and external pressures.
“He was going to feel very traumatised and extremely stressed by the whole thing.”
Following Hall’s death his wife Stephanie said she was heartbroken and believed he had previously made attempts on his life because he could not live with what he had done.
The Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will is conducting an investigation into Hall’s death.
Mrs Albert, a widow, was found in the hallway of her home on December 16, 2001. She had been stabbed five times. Hall was convicted of her murder in February 2003.
He was given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 15 years. He had always denied killing her, mounting a high-profile campaign to get his conviction quashed, until his confession last year.