Paedophile jailed for 16 years

A paedophile whose partner is accused of murdering their two children in a Spanish hotel has been jailed for 16 years.

Martin Smith, 45, who used hypnotism and violence to groom and sexually abuse a young girl was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court today.

He was found guilty of 11 specimen charges of rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault, spanning nine years from May 1995 to May 2004, following a trial in December last year.

Sentencing Smith, Mr Justice Stephen Irwin said he "trapped and overwhelmed" his victim with repeated sexual assaults over a sustained period of time.

"You had so domineered her that she was crushed by you," said Mr Justice Irwin.

"Despite all the evidence, you continued to deny what took place."

The judge added: "In my view, you re-write the world to suit yourself."

Mr Justice Irwin said Smith represented "a high risk of serious harm" to any girls who might find themselves under his influence in the future.

The trial heard that Smith, originally from North Shields, had regular access to the victim and abused her for almost a decade from when she was aged just seven.

He would attempt to hypnotise, hit and bully his victim to ensure she complied, the jury was told.

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 last year.

Their mother Lianne Smith, 43, faces two counts of murder.

In December 2007 Lianne and Martin Smith left the UK for Spain with their young daughter Rebecca. Daniel was subsequently born in Spain.

Martin Smith was extradited in last spring and after his return to the UK, Rebecca and Daniel were found dead.

At the time of the deaths the defendant was in custody in England awaiting trial.

Kim Whittlestone, defending Smith, said today: "Since his extradition to the UK, the events in Spain were out of his control. He has found that extremely distressing."

She said Smith was a man of previous good character and was finding his time in prison "very difficult".

Hilary Manley, prosecuting, said the abuse began with Smith forcing the girl to touch him intimately and Smith touching her.

On occasion he would turn violent, act in a "domineering and bullying manner" and use hypnotism in an effort to bend her to his will, the court heard.

"He would attempt to hypnotise her, although she would simply pretend to be under the influence of hypnotism," the prosecutor added.

Eventually Smith stopped trying to hypnotise the girl and simply went on to rape her repeatedly from the age of 13, the court heard.

"She would try to say no to him. However, it continued," said Miss Manley.

But in 2007 Smith's victim reported the abuse to police and he was arrested in November that year.

He "emphatically denied" all the allegations and was bailed, and went to Spain with his family.

After he was extradited, his partner is then alleged to have murdered the couple's children.

Linda Vance, District Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in Cumbria, praised Smith's victim for reporting the attacks to police.

"She has shown great courage in reporting what happened and in giving evidence against him during the trial," she said.

"This case demonstrates that the CPS and the police do take all reports of sexual offences very seriously, that allegations will be fully investigated and, even if the offences happened some time ago, those guilty of such offences can be brought to justice."

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