Hilda Owen murder case quashed after appeal

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A MAN imprisoned for brutally murdering a Crich born pensioner has had his case quashed after a Court of Appeal hearing.

Peter Smith, 46, of West Hill, in Skegby, was found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court in 2008 of killing 71-year-old Hilda Owen.

The prosecution case at the time suggested that Smith had hit neighbour Hilda 29 times over the head with a claw hammer and a screw driver.

Hilda received a fractured skull and multiple injuries, including being strangled. She died 15 to 24 hours later .

It was claimed Smith did so to inherit his neighbour’s house and pay off mounting debts.

He was jailed for at least 30 years.

But a Court of Appeal last week found the reliability of finger print evidence used in the trial was not sufficient.

Lord Justice Thomas said: “The quality of the reports provided by the Nottinghamshire Fingerprint Bureau for the trial reflected standards that existed in other areas of forensic science some years ago, and not the vastly improved standards expected in contemporary forensic science.”

A date is yet to be set for the retrial.

Hilda lived in Crich and worked in Matlock until she was 44.