England

Spain deaths father convicted of child sex abuse

A man whose partner is accused of murdering their two children has been found guilty of child sex abuse.

Martin Smith, 45, of Carlisle, had denied 11 counts of rape, attempted rape and indecent assault on his victim, who is now in her 20s.

But he was found guilty of the charges at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday.

His partner, Lianne Smith, 44, is accused of killing their children Rebecca, five, and Daniel, 11 months, in a Spanish resort in May.

Smith, originally from North Shields, used hypnosis and violence to groom and sexually abuse the girl, the court heard.

Giving evidence via video link from Spain where she is being held in custody, Lianne Smith said she had never had any concerns about her partner of 18 years.

She said they had left the UK to "protect" their daughter Rebecca after social workers had "threatened" to take her away.

"We left to protect Becky, so... sorry, we left to protect her from Staffordshire Social Services," she said.

Image caption Lianne Smith said they left the UK to "protect" their daughter Rebecca from social services

"And in particular to protect her from the social workers, who had a mission to take our daughter off us.

"They had already made that threat on the telephone, they retracted that in front of our lawyer, but they made that threat."

Following Miss Smith's arrest, court officials said she had admitted killing both her children. No date has been set for her trial.

Martin Smith, who appeared on television as a medium three years ago on the Living channel's Most Haunted programme, was warned by the judge that a long custodial sentence was inevitable.

He was remanded in custody for reports, and will be sentenced in February.

'Prolonged agony'

His victim said in a statement that she was "delighted" with the verdict.

"My motivation has always been to protect other children from Martin Smith," she said.

"He abused me for more than a decade. Even after his arrest he prolonged my agony by fleeing abroad.

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Media captionLinda Vance, Crown Prosecution Service: "The defendant groomed the victim"

"I would like to thank my family and friends for their support.

"I would also like to thank the Crown Prosecution Service and Cumbria Police for bringing this man to justice and for the care and sympathy they have shown me.

"I hope this case encourages other victims to come forward with confidence."

Linda Vance, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Martin Smith subjected the victim in this case to systematic and serious sexual abuse throughout a significant part of her childhood.

"For over ten years from when she was seven years old she was abused regularly.

"By the time she was a teenager the assaults had escalated in seriousness to rape.

"She has shown courage in coming forward and giving evidence against him now, and today the jury have found him guilty of all the charges.

"I hope that as a result she is now able to continue to move on positively with her life."

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