There is such a thing as a crime of passion, certainly in French law. Unfortunately for her though if not for justice, British mother Lianne Smith was tried in a Spanish court. Yesterday, Tuesday, she was given a thirty year sentence
after being convicted, last month, of the May 2010 murders of her baby son and young daughter.
This is a strange case indeed. Lianne Smith was living with Martin Smith, they were not married, but shared this common surname. They met through a dating agency while she was in the process of a divorce from her husband. They appear to have had a strange relationship, because neither 5 year old daughter Rebecca nor baby Daniel were sired by him. Four and a half years ago, Martin Smith was accused of raping Lianne Smith's older daughter from her marriage over a 9 year period. In May 2010, he was arrested in Spain and extradited to the UK, and on May 19 he appeared before magistrates in Carlisle, but on the evening of May 17, Lianne smothered her daughter and baby son, then made several attempts to take her own life, but strangely or sadly did not succeed.
In December, Martin Smith was duly convicted of child sex offences, and given a long prison sentence. He hanged himself in his cell this January. Lianne Smith's case took a long time to come to trial, and her only real defence appears to have been on the grounds of some mental aberration. She told the court she killed her daughter and baby son because she was fearful they would be taken away from her and placed in care. Clearly, she does not understand what the word care means, but the judge did, and he sentenced her to fifteen years for each of these terrible crimes.
Here in the UK, two high profile murder trials are in progress in which the defendant is running a similar defence, at least the second is. We haven't yet heard what is the defence of the man who calls himself Psycho Stapleton
, but he has admitted the Boxing Day shooting
of Indian student Anuj Bidve at Salford, although he denies murder
The usual suspects have made a lot of noise about this case because the accused is white, and shock horror, this could be a hate crime, though it remains to be seen how the unprovoked shooting of a stranger in the head can be anything but. It would not be proper to say too much about this case at this stage, and probably will not until the verdict is in, one way or another, but the word senseless is not out of place. Yesterday, the court heard what the Crown will ask the jury to consider what amounts to be a confession to the crime
, made in a recorded telephone call from prison.
Finally, an even more shocking case than the shooting of Anuj Bidve was the knifing to death of 13 year old schoolgirl Casey Kearney in a Doncaster Park on Valentine's Day. This is another why done it rather than a whodunnit; mental patient Hannah Bonser has admitted this senseless killing
, but as with Kiaran Stapleton, the Crown has refused to accept a manslaughter plea. Bonser's defence is that she heard voices. She bought two kitchen knives and planned to kill a former lover, but apparently couldn't wait.
There have been a number of such killings in the UK by former mental patients in recent years, including of a man who was riding his bicycle, waylaid and stabbed to death, and of Claire Wilson
, a young, pregnant woman, who was stabbed in the back by a total stranger, who then stood by as members of the public detained him.
The two murder trials, Kiaran Stapleton and Hannah Bonser, continue today.