Accused told colleagues of fears

SIMON Hall, the man accused of murdering Joan Albert, told work colleagues forensic experts might find fibres linking him to the pensioner, a court has heard.

SIMON Hall, the man accused of murdering Joan Albert, told work colleagues forensic experts might find fibres linking him to the pensioner, a court has heard.

Hall allegedly told staff at electricity company 24seven that he had occasionally given the 79-year-old widow a lift home in his car because she had been a friend of his parents.

On the fifth day of the murder trial, Norwich Crown Court heard how forensic experts carried out detailed examinations of Hall's Audi car during June last year while it was parked at 24seven's Ipswich-based premises.

At the time, Hall was working as a call advisor at the company and had left the vehicle in the car park because it had a flat tyre and no alternator.

Yesterday, 24seven employee Lisa Gilhooly told the court that Hall had spoken to her a few days after forensic experts turned up to search the car.

"Simon explained police had come to see the car because they were forensically examining it because he was a suspect in a murder trial," she said.

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"He said that the lady who had been murdered had been a friend of his parents and had helped walk their dogs in the past and he had offered to give the lady a lift home.

"Because he said the lady had been in the car he was concerned that they would find fibres because she had been in the car."

Hall, 25, of Hill House Road, Ipswich, denies murdering Mrs Albert in her home at Boydlands, Capel St Mary. Her body was found on December 16, 2001.

The prosecution say Hall intended to burgle the pensioner's home, entering the premises through a kitchen window, but fearing detection, repeatedly stabbed her with a carving knife.

Janice Fox, customer services manager at 24seven, said Hall had also informed her of the forensic examination of his car, and had seemed concerned there might be carpet fibres present from Mrs Albert's home.

Lynn Lawrence, another employee at the firm, said Hall had told her that he somehow "felt that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and had been caught up in it".

The prosecution called forensic scientist Judith Cunnison to give evidence in relation to fibres found at Mrs Albert's and the defendant's homes.

The court heard that Mrs Cunnison took tapings from nine locations in Mrs Albert's home including her body itself, outside the kitchen windowsill and a curtain in the kitchen.

The scientist told the jury she had found more than 1,000 black flock fibres, which were distinctive in a number of ways - including their size and the ends. She also found green polyester fibres on some of the tapings, which were much lower in numbers than the black flock fibres.

The court heard that during examination of Hall's Capel home, Mrs Cunnison found 1,000 black flock fibres. She also found three while investigating his Hill House Road home and ten in his Audi car.

Mrs Cunnison said she was unable to distinguish between the black flock fibres found at Mrs Albert's home and those found in the defendant's home and car.

The trial continues.

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