Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Imprisoned by lies

David Hodgson a 48-year-old Richmond man was yesterday found guilty at Teesside Crown Court of murdering shop worker Jenny Nicholl [19]. Jenny, also from Richmond, North Yorkshire, left home on June 30th, 2005, telling her mum she would not be back that night.

Jenny Nicholl's body has never been found and there is no official crime scene yet based on circumstantial evidence only - Hodgson has been convicted and sentenced to serve a minimum of 18 years in prison.

Only Hodgson knows what occurred that night, driving him to murder his young lover.

The prosecution case uncovered his lies and wildly differing and contradictory accounts given to detectives. Hodgson denied having a relationship with Jenny but then admitted he was friends with her and over a month after Jenny went missing, said he loved her and his life revolved around her.

Hodgson's defense was predicated on Jenny telling him she was leaving home for good, alleging abuse by her father who subsequent to her disappearance was convicted of down loading child pornography from the Internet.

The prosecution alleged Hodgson made calls on Jenny's mobile phone after she had disappeared to send a text to her father, giving the impression she was still alive.

Later, Hodgson admitted he had called Jenny after her disappearance, from public telephone boxes in Richmond, and he had spoken to her from his home telephone.

The jury didn't believe Hodgson's claim Jenny left him notes after she disappeared. He said the messages had been left in a tin under a bridge in Green Lane, near Richmond. When the police asked why he had initially failed to tell them about the notes, he said it had "slipped his mind".

Jenny's friends told the court how she loved her car, bought by her parents in early 2005 and yet the vehicle was found abandoned at the Holly Hill Inn, in Richmond, four days after she went missing.

The defendant's mother-in-law, Evelyn Bagley was a key prosecution witness. She told the court, how she had seen Hodgson walking back into Richmond from the direction of Holly Hill, the morning after Jenny vanished.

Bank records revealed Jenny's personal account was £268 in credit and had not been touched after June 30 2005. A Richmond tanning salon also confirmed, Jenny had booked 25 sessions in the week she had disappeared. The prosecution said these were not the actions of a young woman about to leave her friends and family forever.

Mr Justice Openshaw branded 48-year-old David Hodgson a murderer and a liar as he imposed a mandatory life sentence on the married father-of-two at Teesside Crown Court earlier today.

The judge said Hodgson, had lied to police during the lengthy investigation and to the jury during his trial. He told Hodgson his cruel concealment of Jenny's body had deprived her family of the opportunity of laying her to rest and prolonged their anguish.

Richmond is a beautiful sleepy Yorkshire Dales market town. The tragedy to beset young Jenny Nicholl and her family has shocked and astounded this tiny community and will forever be restless in its history. Those of us, of which I count myself as one, never imagined the cold, calculating stench of murder would ever invade our cherished rural world. How wrong we were?

David Hodgson now has time to contemplate, how his actions destroyed two families and shook his community to the core. I sincerely hope he will find a way to admit his crime and tell Jenny Nicholl's family where she is and let her be properly laid to rest.


Hodgson told the police, Jenny had left messages for him at a remote bridge on Green Lane - which is about 4km from the Holly Hill Pub, where she abandoned her car. This I believe was a Freudian slip by Hodgson, revealing where he left Jenny.

Green Lane is a forbidding, narrow track which is a remote secondary access lane and the perfect spot for lovers to meet and hide their activities away from from public gaze.

Adjacent and directly to the west of Green Lane are many disused mine shafts, a perfect, quiet place to hide a body.

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