He didn't kill Joan - he was with me

SIMON Hall is no killer – according to the friend who was with him on the night Joan Albert was murdered.Jamie Barker has spoken for the first time about the fateful hours he spent with Hall on a drunken night out in Ipswich – the same night the 79-year-old widow was brutally murdered.

SIMON Hall is no killer – according to the friend who was with him on the night Joan Albert was murdered.

Jamie Barker has spoken for the first time about the fateful hours he spent with Hall on a drunken night out in Ipswich – the same night the 79-year-old widow was brutally murdered.

He is convinced the jury convicted the wrong man when it decided the 25-year-old stabbed the widow to death at her Capel St Mary home.

He said: "I know he couldn't have been anywhere else because he was with me. I sometimes wish I had never accepted the lift he offered me that night – but I did."


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After being convicted, Hall said he is determined to appeal against the decision.

Mr Barker was the last person to see him before he is supposed to have murdered Mrs Albert.

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Giving evidence at the Norwich Crown Court trial, Mr Barker said it could have been as late as 6am when Hall dropped him at his Myrtle Street home.

But prosecutors rubbished his memory of events. By his own account he had drunk quite a lot on the night as part of his 21st birthday celebrations.

Now he denies being too drunk to give an accurate account of the pair's movements around Ipswich town centre in the early hours of December 16, 2001.

He said: "By the time I went out I'd started to sober up a bit. I had to stand up in court and draw a map of where we went.

"I could remember that well enough and I can remember getting into his car, so I can't have been that drunk.

"If he dropped me at home at 5.30am and he got in at 6am like his mum says then he couldn't have killed her. He wouldn't have had time

"It all seems to have been down to the fibres as far as I can tell and his mum was a friend of the old lady, so she would have been in and out of the house."

Mr Barker got to know Hall, of Hill House Road, Ipswich, when both worked at the Old Rep pub in Ipswich.

They were not close friends, but Hall never struck his work colleague as a murderer.

Mr Barker said: "He was always a good laugh behind the bar and a great worker, although his time-keeping left a bit to be desired.

"I was just in total shock when I heard the verdict. If it had been a fight that had gone wrong, then maybe.

"But an old lady being stabbed to death – that's just sick."

As well as thinking of his old work-mate, Mr Barker is also now reflecting on the traumatic time he has endured himself.

He said: "It's been nine months of hell. I was never told by police why things were happening.

"We had forensics all over the house and we didn't know why.

"My mum was shaken even when we got to Norwich and then the first thing they came out with was 'What was it like when the forensics descended on your house?'

"She just broke down, but I couldn't speak to her because I'd just given my evidence. That was hard."

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