Hall appeal hopes raised

CAMPAIGNERS for Simon Hall today said they were boosted by news of another Suffolk man's successful murder appeal.Steven Puaca's conviction for killing his partner was quashed due to flawed evidence given at his trial by pathologist Michael Heath.

CAMPAIGNERS for Simon Hall today said they were boosted by news of another Suffolk man's successful murder appeal.

Steven Puaca's conviction for killing his partner was quashed due to flawed evidence given at his trial by pathologist Michael Heath.

Mr Heath was the Home Office pathologist who worked on the investigation into the murder of Capel St Mary pensioner Joan Albert in December 2001.

Hall has always maintained he was not the 79-year-old widow's killer, despite being convicted after a trial at Norwich Crown Court in 2003.

The 27-year-old is serving a life term at HMP Dovegate, Uttoxeter, and waiting to hear whether he will be given leave to appeal.

Today Stephanie Bon, who runs the website justice4simon, said: “It (Puaca's successful appeal) is good news. It's given us more hope that something is happening.

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“Michael Heath's evidence is just one part of our case but it's looking more positive because of what's happened with Steven Puaca.

“I think this will give Simon hope that things are happening and are moving in the right direction for us.”

Hall's team maintain Mr Heath failed to attend the scene of the crime and claim none of the necessary tests were carried out.

As a result they believe it was impossible for Mr Heath to accurately determine the time of Mrs Albert's death at her home in Boydlands.

Campaigners for Hall, of Hill House Road, Ipswich, believe the evidence given at his trial suggested the widow's fatal stabbing occurred about 2am, while he was at Liquid nightclub in Ipswich.

However the prosecution put the time of death several hours later.

Mr Puaca, now 38, from Lowestoft, was found guilty by a jury at Norwich Crown Court in November 2002 of murdering Jacqueline Tindsley at the home they shared in Lowestoft in March of that year.

But three judges, sitting at the Old Bailey in London on Thursday overturned his conviction.

Puaca's case was that his girlfriend died after taking a drug overdose and suffering a fit.

The key grounds of appeal related to the evidence of Mr Heath, who the court heard is facing disciplinary proceedings in connection with two cases, including that of Mr Puaca.

Dr Heath's evidence was that he believed 55-year-old Miss Tindsley died of asphyxia, but the judges heard that a number of other pathologists said there was no evidence to support that finding.

They all agreed “categorically” that there was no pathological evidence of asphyxia.

The crown told the judges that a Home Office disciplinary tribunal hearing was expected to be held in January and pointed out to the court that “there has been no finding against Dr Heath”.

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