Robert William Hoolhouse

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dudley_rush | 13:40 Sat 21st May 2005 | People & Places
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On 26th May 1938, Robert William Hoolhouse was hanged at Durham Prison for the sex murder of Margaret Dobson. In his case there was certainly reasonable doubt. If the forensic evidence still exists and a genetic fingerprint can be obtained, should his body be exhumed so that a comparison can be made?


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I remember that case from a documentary a couple of years ago, as you say the evidence was very weak although I very much doubt that genetic evidence still exists almost 70 years later.

Why do you think there may be such evidence?
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I agree that the genetic evidence may no longer exist, it was just a faint hope really. I do wonder, though, if the verdict on Robert Hoolhouse might someday be overturned, as in the case of Mahmood Hussein Mattan.
If he is not guilty then the real killer could still be out there.  But this seems rather unlikely given the date.  Therefore giving him a posthumous pardon would help his family, but would only upset the family of the victim.  I can't help but think that police resources could be better used.  It's a tough question though.... "should they exhume the body?"
If there is any genetic evidence left of course it should be put to the test, in the grand order of things an exhumation costs little compared with clearing a man who was murdered by the state for a crime he most likely didn't commit.

Miscarriage of justice has been a thorn in my side for 30 years and one of the things I've learned is that the so called "Justice system" will do anything it can to prevent the truth of their mistakes from coming to light.

Even if there is genetic evidence available it would take a sustained campaign from a lot of people to get it into the limelight.

Petitioning for a pardon, an exhumation, etc. has to come from someone - I am not sure whether it must be family or not, but whoever it is faces an uphill battle with the authorities.  The person concerned must have stamina and probably quite a deep pocket if it comes down to a civil case.  It all can take years. It might be that there are no living relatives of this man.

The authorities are not going to jump to it off their own bats. 

If he was innocent then as Kev100 says he too was a murder victim and his family too are entitled to justice.

If there is evidence that the original decision was shaky and therefore that Robert Hoolhouse might have been judicially murdered then yes there are grounds for looking into the case once more.

However, at present the CCRC (Criminal Cases Review Commission) has a huge backlog of cases to investigate (and depending on the outcome refer back to the Court of Appeal) where the people involved are still alive, even still imprisoned.

I would prioritise these cases - where miscarriages of justice may be ongoing and where there is a possibility of capturing the real criminal above this particular case. Given the CCRCs criteria which broadly speaking reflect my last point - if this was referred back to them (especially in the absence of a high profile) it would be a very low priority case. This does not however mean that it would be an action without merit. Certainly morally I agree all should be done to ensure the accuracy of the judicial system.

I Have been fighting for my Brothers ( Bradley Allardyce ) freedom after he was wrongly convicted of murder. Please take a moment of your time and look at Thank you in anticiapation.

He was the best friend of my great uncle , and on Roberts fathers death bed he confessed to the murder of Margaret Dodson . What sort of a father was he to let his own son hang for his crime. I know that all of our family are very bitter about this.
Andy Haswell
I have published a long piece on this murder in a book. i would like to ask Andy Haswell to contact me but anyone else with an interest.
Robert Hoolhouse could not possibly have done this crime and I'd like a few more details of why the father is suspected - apart from the death bed confession.

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