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  1. ITV Report

Killer admits to murdering blind woman on Christmas Day

Jillian Grant Photo:

A 'cold and calculated killer' faces life behind bars for the murder of a blind woman who was found dead on Christmas Day.

Mark Smith has confessed to killing 38-year-old Jillian Grant, whose body was discovered at his house on Tennyson Terrace, North Shields, on December 25 last year.

The 41-year-old also admitted the attempted murder of his parents by setting a fire in Newcastle, in the early hours of the same morning.

He pleaded guilty to murder while appearing at Newcastle Crown Court, shortly before his trial for the murder offence was due to start.

Smith will be sentenced on August 3rd.

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Anderson, from Northumbria Police, said:

Smith is a cold and calculated killer who subjected his vulnerable victim to a violent attack.

“I commend Jillian’s family for the bravery they have shown throughout what has been a traumatic and difficult time.

“I would also like to publicly thank the investigation team involved in this case – their dedication has helped ensure Smith has been brought to justice.”

– Detective Chief Inspector Helen Anderson, Northumbria Police

The family of Jillian have also released the following statement:

Jillian is a much-loved daughter and sister who will be greatly missed by her family and large circle of friends. She had an independent spirit and lived her life to the full – she didn’t let blindness stand in her way.

“Although we do not believe we will ever be able to recover from the void in our lives following Jillian’s death, we have taken comfort from the support and love we have received from so many people.

“We would like to thank everyone for their kindness and support during this difficult time.”

– Jillian Grant's Family Statement

Judge Paul Sloan QC told him:

"There is only one sentence in respect of the offence to murder and that it life imprisonment.

"Nonetheless, I must determine the minimum term you must serve before you could even be considered for release, which I will do tomorrow."

Smith was remanded in custody in the meantime.