Family's shock over prisoner's release

A DEVASTATED widow of a murdered Suffolk millionaire today spoke of her shock after the painter convicted of his death was allowed to walk free from prison.

A DEVASTATED widow of a murdered Suffolk millionaire today spoke of her shock after the painter convicted of his death was allowed to walk free from prison.

The conviction of Joseph Hazel for the point-blank range shooting of Tony Fetherston at his St Kitts holiday home in January 2000 has been quashed by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal.

Three judges ruled the case should never have gone to court and that the DNA evidence on which the conviction was based was not strong enough.

Now Margaret Fetherston and her daughter, Alex, who live near Woodbridge, are waiting to discover if an appeal will be lodged against the decision and whether the police on St Kitts will reopen the murder inquiry.

Mr Hazel, who lived close to the Fetherston's holiday home on St Kitts, was charged with murder in 2001 and faced trial in April, 2004, where he was found guilty on a majority verdict.

A few weeks later he was sentenced to hang and remained in prison until being released late last year after his appeal was upheld.

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Hugh Rawlins, a justice of appeal, said in his judgement that ''a very sad and cold blooded incident'' ended Mr Fetherston's life. But the DNA evidence did not clearly link Mr Hazel to the murder.

He said: ''The learned trial judge should have withdrawn the case from the jury because there was insufficient evidence of identification to make a prima facie case against Mr Hazel.''

Mrs Fetherston, who lives near Woodbridge, said: ''If he did not do it then who did do it? That is the most logical question we want answered.

''I had laid it all to rest. I thought they had found the killer and this had been put to bed. I thought, 'thank God, justice has seen to be done,' but now it has been overturned.

''I am shattered - but not totally surprised because there has always been confusion. I had no idea the appeal was going on. Nobody had informed us and then when we were told he had been let out it was a real shock.''

She received the news in a telephone call from Peter Allcorn, the British honorary consul.

It is now more than seven years since Mr Fetherston, a former RAF pilot and retired shipping executive, was shot in the couple's holiday home in Basseterre, the capital of St Kitts.

He was shot in the evening by a masked gunman, having gone into the garden to investigate noises. Frinton-born Mr Fetherston, 65, was confronted by a man who demanded money and then shot him when he said he had none.

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