Police search for 1979 murder jewellery

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The Independent Online

Police were carrying out a search today for jewellery stolen from murdered gas board clerk Teresa De Simone when she was killed 30 years ago.

The move comes after police named David Lace, who committed suicide in 1988, as the likely murderer.

Specialist search offiers from Hampshire police and British Transport Police are taking part in the search on land next to the main Portsmouth to London railway line near Copnor Bridge, Portsmouth.

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 city of Portsmouth.

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

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

Lace's body was exhumed last month from a cemetery in Portsmouth and DNA testing on his body was a billion-to-one match for samples found at the original crime scene, according to Hampshire police.

Detective Chief Inspector Philip McTavish, the senior investigating officer, said: "We now know the suspect's identity and the fact that he may have discarded or concealed items belonging to the victim at this location.

"Whilst I would not want to raise any expectation that we would recover any such items after nearly 30 years, it is important that we explore this opportunity as far as we possibly can.

"Careful consideration has been given as to whether this search is a viable process and it is being undertaken by specially trained and equipped officers.

"It provides the investigation team with an opportunity to be sure that every possible effort has now been made to recover items belonging to Teresa De Simone.

"We will provide any result of the search in due course."