A COUNTY Durham man freed after 27 years of wrongful imprisonment for rape and murder was warned yesterday he could face another prison sentence.
Judge Christopher Prince is due to study psychiatric reports on Sean Hodgson before deciding today what punishment to mete out after Hodgson admitted sexually assaulting a vulnerable 22-year-old woman on August 12 last year.
The assault took place while both Hodgson and his victim were staying in a County Durham residential home.
Judge Prince adjourned sentencing for 24 hours when Hodgson appeared before him yesterday, but warned: “The fact this defendant has spent 27 years in custody for a crime he did not commit is not a relevant sentencing factor for this offence.
“He is not entitled to a reduction from sentence solely because he has served that time in custody.
“If he is due compensation, that comes from another source.“
The judge said that the total of 156 days Hodgson has spent remanded in custody before being sentenced for assaulting the woman would be taken into account, but added: “The key factor has to be the protection of the public.”
He told Hodgson he could walk free should he agree to complete a psychiatric order imposed by the court, but his barrister Martin Heslop QC, said his client “clearly bears a great resentment against a criminal justice system which has deprived him of 27 years of liberty.”
Hodgson, from Tow Law, was freed in 2009 after having his conviction for the rape and murder of Teresa De Simone in 1979 overturned.
Her body was found in her car at the rear of the Tom Tackle pub in Commercial Road, Southampton, and Hodgson, who turned 60 last Sunday, was sentenced three years later.
Two years ago, Miss De Simone's real killer was named as David Lace, who committed suicide in 1988, aged 26.
His body was exhumed from a cemetery in Portsmouth in order for DNA tests to be carried out to confirm he was the killer.
Hodgson, who last year was living in residential accommodation near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, is in line for £1m compensation for wrongful imprisonment. He has already received a £250,000 interim payment.