Simpson loses murder appeal
The man convicted of murdering social worker Ida James, stabbing her 60 times, has lost an appeal against his conviction.
Norris Simpson was convicted of the brutal killing by a majority verdict in February 2013 following a Supreme Court trial, and subsequently sentenced to serve at least 15 years in prison.
However he launched an appeal against his conviction arguing that his lawyer, Craig Attridge, had performed incompetently.
During the trial, the court heard that Ms James' body was discovered in her home on September 2, 2011. Simpson, a tenant of Ms James, was questioned and found to have a fresh cut on his finger, along with a series of minor cuts and abrasions. Investigators also discovered a note relating to unpaid rent and suggested some discord between the two.
A search of his room revealed a “flesh-like material” on a hat, which was later identified as adipose tissue and linked to Ms James through DNA testing. Further tests also discovered Ms James' DNA beneath Simpson's fingernails.
Simpson however denied that there had been any dispute between Ms James and himself. He suggested that the fatty tissue could have been planted or innocently transferred, and that the DNA could have gotten under his fingernails while working at her property.
During his appeal, however, he complained that Mr Attridge had failed to elicit from him that he had an intimate relationship with Ms James, and that they had relations the day before her body was discovered.
Mr Attridge responded that the issue had been broached with him and fellow counsel Charles Richardson, but grave concerns were raised about introducing the evidence. He added that the final decision was left to Simpson himself.
On this matter, the Appeal Panel found that the introduction of this evidence would have been “the hight of folly”, and that the appellant had accepted the advice of his lawyers not to do so. They noted that Simpson never mentioned the relationship while under cross examination, despite having the opportunity.
Simpson also complained that Mr Attridge failed to call expert forensic witnesses to counter the prosecution's case, but Mr Attridge said he did not recall any such complaint before, during or immediately after the trial. He added that there was little difference between the evidence put forward by the Crown witnesses and opinions obtained by the defence.
And while Simpson argued that further analysis of the fatty tissue should have been carried out, the Appeals Panel noted that Mr Attridge had used the evidence available to argue the material had been indirectly transferred during the investigation.
Written reasons for decision by the panel, dated May 25, stated: “We are not persuaded that any of the decisions of Mr Attridge were wrong, let alone so wrong as to give rise to the risk of a wrongful conviction. There is nothing in our view in any of the appellant's complaints about Mr Attridge's conduct of the trial.”
Concluding, the panel wrote: “The Crown's case depended on two compelling pieces of circumstantial evidence, adipose tissue from the deceased on his baseball cap and her DNA on his nail clippings. He was unable to provide a credible explanation for either.
“Additionally there was the injury to his little finger and the evidence that he owed the deceased money and was in financial difficulty. The jury heard the appellant's evidence and were well placed to assess the extent to which it was untrue.
“They were entitled to convict and there is no reason to suppose the conviction was unsafe. Accordingly we dismissed the appeal.”
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