Businessman Cleared of Murdering Vicky Hall ; Jury Takes Just 90 Minutes to Acquit the Man Accused of Abducting and Killing Sixth-Former on Her Way Home from a Nightclub
Beard, Matthew, The Independent (London, England)
A NEWSPAPER owner was cleared yesterday of murdering the Suffolk sixth-form student Vicky Hall, whose disappearance two years ago sparked an exhaustive police search.
Adrian Bradshaw expressed his relief at the verdict but said he sympathised for the family of the 17-year-old, who was strangled and left in a ditch after visiting a nightclub in Felixstowe.
Miss Hall's parents, who described their daughter in court as a vivacious and teetotal "model daughter", said they were numbed by the verdict. Her father, Graham, said: "Whether Adrian Bradshaw was found guilty or not really made very little difference to us. Unless someone actually owns up to their actions on that night and tells us exactly what happened, that is the only little bit of help we could have."
During the two-week trial at Norwich Crown Court, prosecution counsel said Mr Bradshaw, 27, the owner of a local free newspaper, The Felixstowe Flyer, was seen near Miss Hall's home on the night of her murder. Traces of soil in Mr Bradshaw's Porsche car were found to be similar to soil at the crime scene. But yesterday jurors, who finished hearing evidence last week, took less than 90 minutes to find Mr Bradshaw not guilty.
Asked whether police were looking for anyone else, Detective Superintendent Roy Lambert, who led one of the biggest murder investigations the Suffolk force had launched, said: "I believe we have obtained as much evidence as we can."
He added: "We have been investigating this for over two years and I believe we have looked down every avenue for the person who did this offence."
Miss Hall, who grew up in the village of Trimley St Mary, was studying for three A-levels at Orwell High School in nearby Felixstowe when she disappeared in the early hours of 19 September 1999 after walking home from the Bandbox nightclub with her best friend, Gemma Algar, who is now 19. The girls said goodnight a few hundred yards from their respective homes and Miss Hall was never seen alive again. Her naked body was discovered five days later in a water-filled ditch 25 miles away in the village of Creeting St Peter. There were no signs of sexual assault or strangulation, apart from a bruise on her back. Post-mortem tests showed she was probably suffocated.
Prosecution witnesses said Mr Bradshaw, who had spent part of Saturday night at the same club, was dropped off by a taxi a few hundred yards from where Miss Hall disappeared at 2. …