Smith v R., Court of Appeal - Criminal Division, May 02, 2003, [2003] EWCA Crim 1240

Resolution Date:May 02, 2003
Issuing Organization:Criminal Division
Actores:Smith v R.

Case No: 2000/00871/Z4

Neutral Citation No: [2003] EWCA (Crim) 1240




Royal Courts of Justice


London, WC2A 2LL

Friday 2nd May 2003

Before :





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Between :

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(Transcript of the Handed Down Judgment of

Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited, 190 Fleet Street

London EC4A 2AG

Tel No: 020 7421 4040, Fax No: 020 7831 8838

Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)

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Mr Henry Blaxland Q.C and Mr R. H. Christie for the Appellant

Mr Simon Spence for the Respondent

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As Approved by the Court

Crown Copyright ©

Lord Justice Scott Baker:

  1. The appellant, Terence Robert Smith, appeals against his conviction for murder before Judge Hyam and a jury in the Crown Court at Norwich on 13 October 1997. There was a co-defendant, Harry John Groves, who was convicted of the same offence on the same occasion. At the time of the offence the appellant was 35 and Groves was 17.

    The basic facts

  2. The victim was Simon Shannon. His body was found at his home, 2, Groom Park, Clacton-on-Sea on the morning of Saturday 6 May 1995. He had been strangled, stamped upon and had his throat cut. There were multiple injuries. He, like a number of others connected with the case, was a practising homosexual. The appellant was bisexual, a fact that he admitted in interview. It was the Crown's case that the appellant and Groves went to Shannon's house on the night of 2/3 May 1995, obtained access and together killed him. The appellant's case was that he was not present, a contention supported by the fact that there was no forensic evidence to connect him with the crime. The Crown's case as to the time of death was supported by evidence that milk was delivered on Wednesday 3 May about 6 am and was still uncollected when there was a further delivery on Friday 5 May. When the milk still had not been collected the following morning and the milkman saw blood splashes on looking through the letterbox, the police were called. There was no sign of forcible entry and the body of Shannon was flat on its back in the lounge.

    Courtman's account

  3. Paul Courtman was a crucial prosecution witness. He lived at Beach Way, Jaywick, Clacton with Steven Sparkes. They had been together for ten or eleven years. Courtman had known the deceased for two years and saw him regularly. Their relationship was platonic. He also knew the appellant whom he had met in the Summer of 1994. He regarded him as a friend. Their relationship at that time was platonic, although this changed to a degree in about July 1995. He met Groves a couple of months after he had met the appellant and saw him regularly but not as often as the appellant. Their relationship was platonic.

  4. During the first week in May 1995 the appellant's wife went on holiday to Bognor Regis. On 2 May Courtman spent the evening drinking at his home with the appellant and Groves. Sparkes was there too. Sparkes and the appellant were drinking heavily, Groves more modestly. Groves was not happy and was talking about Shannon and homosexuality. The appellant would have known about Shannon's inclinations but Groves probably not as he had never met him. Groves mentioned his unhappy childhood and that his father was a pervert. He appeared angry. The conversation about Shannon included a reference to a pornographic book and some photographs that he possessed. Courtman said they seemed undecided whether Shannon was a pervert. Groves was unhappy at the prospect that he was, but the appellant did not seem so affected. The conversation lasted into the early hours of Wednesday 3 May. Groves and the appellant left about 2.15am saying they were going home. Between 4.30 and 5am they were stopped by the police on the way back to Jaywick. The Crown's case was that the murder had been committed in the intervening period and that they had remained at Shannon's house for some time after they had killed him. They told the police when they were stopped that they had been seeing some old tarts in London, which was a lie.

  5. On Thursday 4 May about 8.30am Groves visited Courtman and they sat in the Garden. He told Courtman that something terrible had happened and Courtman had to ask him several times what he meant. He then told him that when they had left his house on the Wednesday morning they had gone to Shannon's and killed him. Groves said that when they arrived one of them said they had an urgent message from `Paul' (Courtman) and the appellant asked to use the lavatory. Whilst he was away Shannon showed Groves some pictures which Groves found offensive. The appellant then appeared wearing surgical gloves and nodded towards Groves. The appellant placed a wire around Shannon's neck and pressed a knee into his back. Shannon appeared to wave goodbye. Groves then went crazy, picked up a blunt stanley knife and cut him. He did so with about five strokes and then the appellant told him to stop as he was already dead. He fell to the floor and Groves jumped up and down on his chest, kicking him until the appellant pulled him off. Groves told Courtman a glass top table was knocked over during the event.

  6. At this point the appellant arrived at Courtman's house and he too explained what had happened. He was concerned about the possibility of fingerprints being found because one of his gloves had split. Also, the police had stopped them shortly after their departure. Courtman only half believed them but they were very solemn and appeared frightened. Courtman agreed to keep it quiet and even suggested that no one else be told, especially Sparkes, since he was mentally unstable and had been receiving psychiatric treatment since the age of fifteen. Courtman carried on as if nothing had happened and went ahead with a barbecue that he had planned.

  7. Courtman saw Groves and the appellant again on the Friday morning. Groves, in particular, was still worried about the possibility of fingerprints being found. Courtman suggested the door should be wiped clean with bleach and then pretended to go and do it. There was some talk about an alibi and what they would say if their fingerprints or other evidence was found connecting them with the scene.

  8. Courtman had had oral sex with the appellant on three occasions but found it daunting because he was married. This occurred in the period between the murder and the arrests. Courtman said the appellant and Groves told Crossland (of whom we shall have a good deal more to say in a moment) and Sparkes that the three of them were in a pact.

    Sparkes's account

  9. Sparkes confirmed that he and Courtman had been living together for many years. It was a homosexual relationship but had fallen off since Crossland had come on the scene. On 2 May, at a drinking session, there was a discussion about whether various people were homosexual. Courtman implied Shannon possessed pictures of young boys. Groves said he would like to meet him. Courtman tried to dissuade him, because it was so late. Sparkes, who was quite drunk, fell asleep on the floor. When he awoke about 2am the appellant and Groves had gone. He...

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