The trial of Martin Smith took place in Manchester Crown Court and lasted 8 days. Mr Justice Irwin presided and the Jury found Smith guilty on 11 counts of rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault. Sentence is still to be passed, but in the British media, and for millions of people in UK and worldwide, Martin is already a criminal and convicted paedophile.
Media Feeding Frenzy
By the time of the court hearing, the media had already had a field day over Martin Smith, since he was the long term partner of Lianne Smith - the British mother living in Spain, who admitted killing her two young children rather than allow them to be taken from her by Staffordshire Social Services.
Her picture and that of her dead children, Rebecca 5 and Daniel 11 months, were first published by a crowing Daily Mail, which ran a “scoop” expose of the tragic events. The Mail was delighted that “one of Britain’s most wanted men had been arrested in Spain, after more than two years on the run.”
To convict in a criminal case there must be ‘no reasonable doubt in the mind of a reasonable person that the defendent is guilty.’ What the screaming Mail headlines and sloppy reporting by Tom Rawstorne failed to mention, was that Martin Smith was convicted on the word of one young woman, with no corroborating evidence from any other person, no medical evidence and no forensic evidence. Without proof and corroborating evidence, reasonable doubt existed at every stage of the case - certainly in the minds of the public who attended court.
Suspicion as to bias in the conduct of this public hearing began on day one, when members of the public were confined to the rear left-hand public seating of the Court, where they were unable to see the full Court or Jury, or see or properly hear, conduct of the case by both the Prosecution and Defence Counsels - Fig 1 shows the Court layout, including public seating. In simple terms the public were ‘unable to see justice being done’ in a public open court. Aside from preventing the public from seeing the Court, a press reporting clamp-down was ordered by Judge Irwin on 6 December 2010.
A public notice pinned to the court door stated “Mr Justice Irwin ordered that publication of any report of the proceedings or part thereof be postponed until further notice to protect the identity of the Complainant in these proceedings [name]”
That the Complainant was then actually named in Irwins edict, fully visible to the public, seemed both incongruous, if not foolish. But why the secrecy - a cover up?
What did not emerge in Court was any background to the allegations against Martin, the real background of his accuser, or the intwined and devious activities of Children’s Services. These are also facts ignored by the Daily Mail and other mainstream media. What really happened?
The Story Of The Smiths
In August 2005 Lianne Smith, Martin's partner, started working as the Extended Services Remodelling Advisor for Cumbria County Council, under Mrs Moira Swann, the Director of Children's Services (DCS). In this role Lianne also worked closely with the Training and Development Agency (TDA) a wing of the Department for Children, Schools and Development Agency. Her prime task was to improve the performance of schools with poor Ofsted inspection reports. In six months, Lianne Smith’s team took Cumbria from a Department of Children, Schools and Families and TDA “County Causing Concern”, to one where good progress was being made. But she had made enemies. During 2006, Lianne’s good performance and ability to win funding for School Improvement, rather than Social Services, had seriously upset SS bosses.
A Common Purpose
More significantly, Lianne was highly suspicious of Children’s Services talk of a ‘common purpose’ regarding children. Supposedly ‘safeguarding all children from harm’, Lianne saw that the ‘common purpose’ was really a dangerous and controlling State move whereby anyone working with children would become ‘quasi social workers’. This would effectively place every child under Children’s Services control, rather than their parents, even if there were no circumstances around a child or family to merit Social Services intervention.
When Lianne made moves to become a Director of Children’s Services in order to fight these plans, Children’s Services bosses became hostile. Some of her colleagues warned her that she had been very brave to challenge the ‘system’. Unknown to her, she had made further enemies in Children’s Services through her dedication for home education for her own children, and as Regional Advisor for the home education group Education Otherwise. In contrast to the ‘Common Purpose’ approach, properly conducted home education strengthens family ties and undermines control by the State.
In October 2007, Lianne obtained a promotion as Staffordshire Director of Children's Services. Within a month, Martin was suddenly accused of sexual assault by an adult female close to the family. With no corroborating evidence of any kind, Martin was not charged, but was bailed unconditionally until January 2008, and Social Services were informed. They quickly began to take an unhealthy interest in the couple's young daughter Rebecca. Referring to Children’s Services, friendly colleagues warned Lianne that “these men are very clever”. Their predictions proved to be correct, as Children’s Services began to hunt Martin and Lianne Smith for custody of their daughter Rebecca. The family fled to Spain, where Martin was later arrested.
Huge Public Interest
Returning to the Manchester trial, on Monday 13 December, at the start of the second week, informed public interest in the case swelled numbers to 40 people, most of whom were unable to find seating. Inexplicably, Judge Irwin still refused to open the upstairs viewing gallery until formal complaints were made directly to the Court Manager - and subsequently passed back to him. In the course of making complaints, three members of the public were accosted by police in the Court Administrative area, and accused of ‘vexatious behaviour.’ The officers later backed down when challenged by a retired police constable, who was also present to witness the case.
During the trial, the single Complainant gave evidence from behind a screen. Their testimony was verbal, and not directly substantiated by any other material witnesses, or medical or forensic evidence. Nor was there any expert psychological assessment as to the reliability of the Complainant themselves. Cross examined, Lianne and her eldest son from a previous marriage, provided no corroborative evidence for the prosecution, and the Court placed heavy reliance on statements to the court made by a ‘friend’ of the Complainant, Mrs X. Surprisingly Mrs X was not a material witness to the crimes, had not known the Complainant during the time of the offences, nor did she know Martin Smith.
CPS evidence in the case relied exclusively on police statements, and the police interview of the Complainant. They failed to explain why basic investigation and follow up procedures for the complaint were not carried out. Nor did they fully explain the police relationship with Mrs X.
Police witnesses attending court appeared nervous and agitated, and at one stage left court during the progress of proceedings to make discrete mobile phone calls.
Despite his standing and experience, Judge Irwin failed to spot a Juror asleep during the trial, and in a bizarre event, he repeatedly told a physically large member of the public to sit down, when the person was already sitting, and had been throughout. Many of the public present remarked on his strange behaviour, and felt he was unusually nervous of the public presence and interest. Given that the burden of proof in criminal cases is one of “Beyond reasonable doubt”, and since no corroborating evidence against Martin Smith was presented, the guilty verdict came as a considerable shock to the public. Sentencing has yet to take place, but the Judge has warned that it will be a lengthy sentence. Whatever the sentence, the guilty verdict ensures that Staffordshire Children’s Services can now claim innocence in the approaching Spanish trial over the deaths of Rebecca and Daniel. Despite the weakness of the accusations and case against Martin Smith, their aggressive, devious and sustained campaign to take the children children from Lianne Smith has been protected. Was justice “Seen to be Done?” - few attending the Manchester Court thought so.