'Most wanted' man Martin Anthony Smith arrested in Spain

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One of Britain's most wanted men has been arrested in Spain, Crimestoppers said today.

Martin Anthony Smith, 45, from North Shields, was wanted in connection with a rape of a child under 16, gross indecency with a girl under the age of 16, indecent assault of a girl under 16 and attempted rape of a girl under 16, according to the charity.

He was arrested in Barcelona on Friday, more than two years after he failed to answer bail in the UK.

The alleged attacks took place between April 30 1995 and April 29 2005.

Smith was placed on the Operation Captura most wanted list last September following his failure to answer bail on January 21 2008.

The operation identifies serious criminals wanted in the UK who are suspected of living in Spain.

Dave Cording, Crimestoppers' director of operations, said: "This man was being sought in connection with an extremely serious crime.

"Operation Captura continues to go from strength to strength, which is due to law enforcement in both the UK and Spain working so successfully together with the help of vital information provided by the public.

"Nobody should under-estimate how important their information about crime is - just one phone call could be the missing piece of the jigsaw that could help bring justice to victims and their families."

A spokesman for the British Embassy in Madrid said: "The latest arrest is another example of how close co-operation between UK and Spanish police forces can help ensure dangerous fugitives are returned to face justice in the UK.

"The public and media response to the ongoing Captura campaign has been incredibly effective so far."

Detective Superintendent Andy Slattery, of Cumbria Constabulary's public protection unit, said: "Last year we joined Crimestoppers and the Serious Organised Crime Agency in appealing to people in Spain for help tracking down Mr Smith who had fled the country after being arrested in connection with a string of historical sexual offences in our area.

"Whilst I cannot comment on the specific details of this case prior to the court case, I am pleased that Mr Smith has been located and will now face justice in the UK."

He said the force is working with Soca and the British Embassy in Spain to bring Smith back to Britain.