Wealth of victim attracted killer, claim

GLITTERING on Joan Albert's finger, a huge diamond solitaire ring was just one of many treasures which could have attracted a lethal burglar, a jury has heard.

By Tracey Sparling

By Tracey Sparling

crime reporter


GLITTERING on Joan Albert's finger, a huge diamond solitaire ring was just one of many treasures which could have attracted a burglar-turned-murderer, a jury has heard.

Mrs Albert was found brutally stabbed to death at the age of 79, in her Boydlands home at Capel St Mary on December 16, 2001.

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Some of the deep wounds had savagely been inflicted at the moment of – or just after – her death according to a home office pathologist.

Simon Hall, the adopted son of Lynn Hall who walked Mrs Albert's beloved dog Rusty and did her shopping, stands in the dock accused of breaking into her home to raid its contents, then panicking and stabbing her with a kitchen knife when she disturbed him.

Hall, 25, of Hill House Road, Ipswich, denies murder.

The prosecution also claim Hall had just £300 in the bank, knew his victim, and had remarked on her wealth.

At Norwich Crown Court yesterday, prosecution barrister Graham Parkins QC said: "This was an elderly lady living alone in a nice detached house, always well turned-out and the obvious inference can be drawn that she was financially comfortable. The Crown say Simon Hall was just such a person to know that."

He said black fibres from a missing item of Hall's clothing, were found in his two homes including his parents' house in Snowcroft, Capel, and two cars – and were identical to fibres found on her body, and on a nearby fence.

He said there is also a period of 45 minutes on the night of the murder, where Hall cannot explain his actions.

Jurors watched a 20-minute silent video film of the rooms inside Mrs Albert's home, revealing antique furniture and cabinets displaying silver, glassware and ornaments.

Photographs showed her body lying in the hallway, stiffened arms lifted into mid air with palms uppermost, as if warding off her attacker.

Her friends Hugh and Jean Twose, from The Street, Capel St Mary, discovered the body after she failed to answer their phone calls.

Mr Twose said: "She was lying at the foot of the stairs, fully outstretched, arms up in the air. It was obvious she was dead."

Mrs Twose told police she pulled Mrs Albert's nightdress down to cover her exposed legs, but couldn't bear to look at her face.

The court heard Mrs Albert had had a CCTV camera installed before the summer of 2001, so she could see who was at the front door, via her video, after being 'tormented' by local youths who kicked her garden bird table over.

Mrs Albert married Cyril at the age of 46, and her niece, nurse Glynis Dzundza said: "She had a very large ring which I believe was her engagement ring. It had a very large stone – it was a diamond solitaire I believe.

"She always wore a lot of jewellery, probably more than one ring, a necklace, earrings and a watch. It was always quite noticeable, and I know for a fact it was good jewellery."

She said Mrs Albert got up four to five times a night to let ill Rusty – later described as 'her substitute child' – out to the toilet.

Kathleen Cousins, Mrs Albert's older sister told police: "Joan quite liked jewellery and did like to put on an air of wealth, and her jewellery was always prominent."

Niece Lavinia Broome revealed the former hairdressing salon owner always wore high heels and expensive dresses in her younger days.

She said: "Back in the 50s in Debenham, she made heads turn," and added that the diamond ring was "worth quite a lot of money."

The court also heard from Pc Peter Lickert and paramedic Margaret Cook who attended the scene, friend Jacqueline Durham, cleaner Patricia Davis who told of Mrs Albert's nervousness when a carpet cleaner with dreadlocks worked at her home.

Mark Tatton and his son Richard from Vine Walk told how they were both woken on the night of the murder. Mark heard a loud scraping noise and peered into the darkness but saw nothing.

Eleven more witnesses are due to be heard today, and the trial is expected to last three weeks.

n Mrs Dzundza issued a note of thanks via The Evening Star, to friends from work who sent her a bouquet to show their support during the trial.