Mother relieved as daughter's 1979 killer is named

The mother of a woman who was murdered 30 years ago spoke today of her "relief" that her daughter's real killer has now been named.



The body of David Lace, who committed suicide, was exhumed last month from a cemetery in Portsmouth.

DNA testing on his body was a complete match for samples found at the original crime scene, Hampshire police said.

The Teresa De Simone murder investigation was re-opened when DNA evidence proved that the man jailed for 27 years for the crime, Sean Hodgson, was innocent.

Detective Chief Inspector Philip McTavish, who is leading the re-investigation into the murder for Hampshire police, said: "Following the exhumation of the suspect on Wednesday August 12, the Forensic Science Service has now completed DNA testing and comparisons against DNA found at the original crime scene.

"It has been confirmed that the DNA from the suspect is a complete match and belongs to David Andrew Lace, born September 2 1962, formerly of Brixham in Devon."

Miss de Simone's mother Mary Sedotti, 77, said the naming of the suspect would give some closure for her and stepfather Michael.

She said: "It does give closure and it is a relief to get it all done.

"Hopefully, we can all start to move on now."

After the exhumation, she said Lace's suicide meant that the motive behind her daughter's murder would never be known.

She said: "In a way, it's hard knowing that he is not here to answer or explain. But then, at the same time, I think that what he did shows he must have had a conscience.

"He must have been very troubled. We will never know why he did it."

The half-naked body of gas board clerk Miss De Simone was found on December 5 1979 in her car parked at the rear of the Tom Tackle pub in Commercial Road, Southampton.

She had been raped and strangled, and her jewellery had been stolen.

Lace was 17 at the time of the murder and was living in his home town of Portsmout.

He took his own life in December 1988 when he was living in Brixham and did not feature as part of the original police investigation.

Lace made admissions to the murder in 1983 following Mr Hodgson's conviction at Winchester Crown Court 18 months earlier.

Alastair Nisbet, senior Crown prosecutor, said: "The CPS has advised Hampshire Constabulary that the evidence would have been sufficient to prosecute David Lace, if he were alive, with the offences of the rape and murder of Teresa De Simone.

"But this is in no sense a declaration that he was guilty of the offences. Had Mr Lace lived, our decision would merely have authorised the police to begin the legal process by charging him.

"Only after trial does a jury decide whether a person is guilty or not, on a higher standard of proof - beyond reasonable doubt.

"We agreed to look at the evidence on a deceased suspect because of the very exceptional circumstances of this case."

The Ministry of Justice gave permission for Lace's body to be exhumed from Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth, after new DNA samples promoted him to Hampshire police's prime suspect.

Police said Lace was thought to have had no prior link to Miss De Simone.

After Mr Hodgson's conviction was quashed at the Court of Appeal in March this year, police carried out DNA screening of more than 100 people.

Mr Hodgson, 58, from County Durham, consistently protested his innocence.

He confessed to the killing at the time but later denied the charge. He was convicted in 1982 at Winchester Crown Court despite Mr Hodgson's defence team saying he was a pathological liar.

Hampshire police said it was only the second time a suspect in a historic murder inquiry had been exhumed.

The first such case was the exhumation of former nightclub doorman Joe Kappen from Goytre Cemetery in Port Talbot, south Wales, in May 2002.

Detectives gained important DNA evidence from his body, linking him to the murder of three 16-year-old girls in 1973.

Mr Hodgson's lawyer Julian Young said the police announcement means he will look at claiming compensation for his client's years spent wrongfully behind bars.

He said his client had been very ill. He was being cared for at a respite home in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, and had not commented on developments.

Mr Young said: "It is all very sad, for a number of reasons.

"Obviously, it brings closure to the victim's family and, equally, it vindicates Sean's position, specifically that he was not guilty.

"It brings great sadness to Mr Lace's family and these revelations mean that Sean and I will have to discuss the question of claims for compensation."

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?