Hodgson Conviction Quashed After 27 Years

A man who has spent 27 years in prison has had his conviction quashed at the Court of Appeal.

Sean Hodgson, now 57, was sentenced to life imprisonment for strangling 22-year-old gas board clerk and part-time barmaid Teresa De Simone in Southampton.

She was discovered in her Ford Escort vehicle in a car park beneath the Tom Tackle pub were she worked.

At the time of the conviction, DNA tests were not available. Such evidence was not used in court until 1986 in Leicester.

A case review proved DNA found at the scene was not his.

The case of Mr Hodgson was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Review Commission (CCRD), an independent body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.

The appeal was heard by Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and two other senior judges who ruled that his 1982 conviction was "unsafe".

In his ruling, Lord Judge said: "The conviction will be quashed for the simple reason that advances in the science of DNA, long after the end of the trial, have proved a fact which... [would] have resulted in quite a different investigation and a completely different trial."

In November last year, after requests from Mr Hodgson's legal representatives, Hampshire Police and Forensic Science Services undertook a comprehensive forensic case review and examination of material, including DNA testing on samples collected at the time of the murder.

It is understood the DNA found at the scene did not match a sample given by Mr Hodgson - also known as Robert Graham Hodgson - originally from Co Durham.

The judge said that tests on sperm found at the scene proved it did not come from Mr Hodgson.

"The Crown's case was that whoever raped her also killed her, so the new DNA evidence has demolished the case for the prosecution," Lord Judge added.

He announced at the end of his judgement that Mr Hodgson would be "discharged" and there would be no new trial.

The CCRC decided to refer the case after it considered there was a "real possibility the court would consider the conviction unsafe and quash it".

Mr Hodgson is one of the longest-serving victims of a miscarriage of justice in the UK.

Speaking outside court Mr Hodgson said he felt "ecstatic" and that it was "great to be free again".

His brother Peter added: "On behalf of my brother, I would like to thank the solicitor a million, million times.

"I've had a dream for 27 years. I know it's a hell of a long time, but it's finally come true."


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