POLICE who questioned Peter Fell in the days after the double murder he was later convicted of said they were happy he was not a suspect, a court was told.

And witness statements taken from Fell's colleagues more than a year after the murders were not reliable, the Court of Appeal heard.

Fell, 39, formerly of Great Harwood and educated at Norden High School, Rishton, is appealing against his conviction for the murders of Ann Lee and Margaret Johnson on Aldershot Common in May 1982. He was convicted in August 1984 at Winchester Crown Court.

Three judges have already been told that a confession made by Fell after 50 hours of police questioning is unsafe because he had not eaten, slept or had access to a solicitor and, at the time, was a very "compliant" person prone to giving in to heavy pressure.

On Friday, Patrick O'Connor QC, for Fell, turned to the statements provided by Fell's work colleagues at a canvassing company where he had worked. They were shortly after the murder on May 10, 1982, when Fell had contacted the police to say the murderer was called Peter Fell. Medical experts appearing in court have already said those phone calls might just have been an attempt by Fell to draw attention to himself.

When asked for an alibi for the day of the shooting, Fell said he had been in the pub before going to work for around 3.30pm -- making it impossible for him to have been at the murder scene, the court heard.

Mr O'Connor said: "Police reports at the time concluded that they were happy Fell was not the murderer. Statements from his colleagues said he was at work and nothing seemed out of the normal.

"Why, then, did they feel the need to return to those same witnesses nearly a year later, who suddenly had slightly different accounts for May 10, which suggested Fell was nearly half an hour late for work?

"These statements were again repeated six days after the second check-up and again only produced slight changes. They still say Fell turned up for work, but a bit late. At best, they prove he was work, at worst, they are neutral to the fact he was late. They certainly do not prove he was at the murder or committed the crimes.