'Murder' mother's partner guilty of abuse
Wednesday 15 December 2010
A man whose partner is accused of murdering their two children in a Spanish hotel was today facing jail after using hypnotism and violence to groom and sexually abuse a young girl.
Martin Smith, 45, who had regular access to the girl, abused her for almost a decade from when she was aged just seven, Manchester Crown Court heard.
The victim, now in her 20s, told the jury Smith would attempt to hypnotise her, hit and bully her, to ensure she complied with his demands.
Smith's own daughter, Rebecca, five, and son Daniel, 11 months, were found dead in the Hotel Miramar in the resort of Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava on May 18.
Smith had been arrested in Spain on a UK extradition warrant days earlier.
Their mother, Lianne Smith, 44, is being held by Spanish police on suspicion of their murder.
During the week-long trial Miss Smith choked back tears as she gave evidence from Spain in support of her partner of 18 years.
Via a grainy, black and white video link from what appeared to be an office, Miss Smith spoke directly at the camera as she was questioned about her partner.
The couple fled the UK in December 2007 after Smith had been accused of the child sex offences.
"We left to protect Becky, so ... sorry, we left to protect her from Staffordshire Social Services," Miss Smith said.
"And in particular to protect her from the social workers, who had a mission to take our daughter off us."
She added: "They had already made that threat on the telephone, they retracted that in front of our lawyer, but they made that threat."
Smith, originally from the North Shields, was extradited back to the UK earlier this year to stand trial and today a jury found him guilty of 11 specimen counts of rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault, spanning nine years from May 1995 to May 2004.
Smith blinked but made no further reaction when the guilty verdicts to each of the 11 counts were given by the jury foreman.
The defendant's lawyer, Kim Whittlestone, asked for a pre-sentence report - given the defendant faced a jail term "well into double figures", she said.
Mr Justice Stephen Irwin replied: "I'm sure your client is aware a significant custodial sentence is inevitable."
Addressing the defendant, he added: "Having been convicted you know that you inevitably face a long sentence in custody.
"I'm prepared to accede to the request there should be a pre-sentence report, I am told there is also a psychiatric report.
"You will be remanded into custody and come up in court for sentence in the New Year."
Smith, originally from North Shields, would use hypnotism and violence to groom the girl in readiness for "systematic and prolonged" sexual abuse, the court heard.
The couple met though a dating agency in 1992 while Miss Smith was going through a divorce.
She described her partner of 18 years as "very, very friendly, generous, kind".
"Martin, from the very first day, always seemed to be the most honest person I have ever known," she added.
"We could talk about everything and anything."
She told the court she "never" had any concerns about her partner's behaviour towards young girls.
After Smith fled abroad, his victim pleaded last year for him to end the international manhunt and hand himself in to the authorities.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave an interview to the Carlisle News & Star newspaper in September in which she appealed for "closure".
She spoke out in the same week that Crimestoppers and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency launched an appeal in Malaga, Spain, to ask Britain's expatriate community for help to track down wanted suspect Smith.
The woman told the newspaper: "I can't get on with normal things because you know this big case is going to come about. I think it is an overused term but you need to get closure in these things.
"You're scared the whole time. It isn't really living, it is existing. I became this quiet victim."
Smith will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court in February next year.
Miss Smith remains behind bars in the Spanish city of Girona while a judge continues to investigate the case against her.
No date has yet been set for her return to court, a court official said.
A legal document released after her arrest in May said she had admitted killing both her children.
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