Stoke & Staffordshire

Simon Smith: Triple baby killer may go to open prison

Simon Smith with his baby daughter Lauren Image copyright Rachel Playfair
Image caption Simon Smith was pictured the night before murdering his three-month-old daughter Lauren

A triple killer who murdered his own babies by suffocating them is set to be moved to an open prison.

Simon Smith killed three-month-old Lauren, six-month-old Jamie and Eleisha, 10 months, between 1989 and 1994 in Staffordshire.

The Parole Board said Smith was "suitable" for the move, which would prepare him for possible release.

Lauren's mum Rachel Playfair said Smith was pure evil and she would do anything she could to "get this overturned".

"For him to have robbed me of my one chance to be a mother is really difficult to live with," she said.

Eleisha and Jamie, his children by a previous marriage, were initially believed to have suffered cot deaths.

But an investigation began when his third child, Lauren, died of asphyxiation a year after Jamie.

Image caption Rachel Playfair said justice for her, would be for Smith to stay in a "secure environment"

Smith was jailed in 1996 and Mr Justice McKinnon told him he would be failing in his duty if he did not recommend that in this case a life sentence should mean life.

But at the time decisions on the minimum length of a life sentence were made by the home secretary - the responsibility was handed to judges when the Criminal Justice Act 2003 was implemented - and Smith was told he would serve at least 24 years.

Mrs Playfair said she believed Smith had been in Littlehey Prison in Cambridgeshire.

The killer was seen by a parole board two years ago, Mrs Playfair told the BBC, but "my victim impact [statement] played a big part in keeping him in a secure jail".

"How, in two years, can he suddenly not be a risk to the public?"

Image copyright Peter Rogers Photographic
Image caption Simon Smith is "pure evil", Mrs Playfair said

"My biggest fear is that he will be released from prison and find another woman. He's only 50, so he can father another child.

"He is pure evil. He only killed his own flesh and blood.

"The judge repeatedly said life means life. What he did was premeditated. He knew exactly what he was doing."

Image copyright Other
Image caption Police led an inquiry into the deaths of Eleisha (left) and Jamie

His trial at Stafford Crown Court heard that because Lauren was crying, Smith had taken her to Westbridge Park in Stone, where he pushed her face into a car seat before taking her home and suffocating her with his hand.

Smith, who was a trainee assistant in a care home, admitted to police he had killed her but insisted his two other babies had suffered cot deaths.

Police led an inquiry and brought expert witnesses to court, who said the infants could have been suffocated.

Mrs Playfair said she believed her daughter had been born to get justice for the two other babies.

"If Lauren had not died, they would not have investigated the other two deaths."

Image copyright Rachel Playfair
Image caption Rachel Playfair said Simon Smith was a violent alcoholic

She said she had met Smith, who moved into her home in Stone, when she was "incredibly vulnerable", recovering from anorexia in hospital.

"He was also a patient, suffering from depression after the 'cot death' of one of his children.

"He was an alcoholic, he could be violent - but he could also be very charming and likeable."

You might also be interested in:

In a statement, the Parole Board said it had decided not to release Smith following a hearing this month but had recommended he was suitable for a move to an "open conditions prison".

"We will only make a recommendation for open conditions if a Parole Board panel is satisfied that the risk to the public has reduced sufficiently to be manageable in an open prison," it added.

"This is a recommendation only and the Ministry of Justice will now consider the advice and make the final decision."

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites