Bristol Innocence Project takes murder case to Appeal Court

The University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP) has secured a major victory for a man fighting a murder conviction.

The case of Simon Hall, convicted of murdering 79-year-old Joan Albert, is the first worked on by an innocence project in the UK to be referred back to the Court of Appeal.

Senior lecturer in Bristol’s School of Law and the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, Dr Michael Naughton, said: “This is a fantastic achievement. There have been a lot of people involved over the years but this achievement is really down to Gabe Tan, who has given the last three or four years to think about Simon, work on Simon’s case and push the CCRC [Criminal Cases Review Commission].”

“People are cautiously optimistic as we’re all very aware how difficult it is to overturn a conviction, but people are really hopeful” added Naughton. “We know the court is often reluctant to quash convictions completely so we’re realistic that in this case it could more likely be a retrial.”

Gabe Tan, a former law student who is now research assistant in the School of Law and assistant director of the UoBIP, headed the investigation into Hall’s claim of innocence with four other students.

Tan unearthed information in previously unused evidence that may conclusively prove Hall’s factual innocence.

Naughton established UoBIP in 2005 as an extra-curricular pro bono legal clinic and over the past few years around 25 students have been involved Hall’s case.

The appeal is to begin today (7 December) and is scheduled to run over three days.