'Perverted' killer jailed for sex worker's murder 30 years after he was cleared

Lorry driver David Smith, 67, will finally face justice over Sarah Crump's death in 1991. Credit: PA

A “sadistic sexual killer” has been handed a life sentence for the murder of an escort - three decades after he was acquitted of the crime.

Lorry driver David Smith, 67, was cleared of killing Sarah Crump, 33, in 1993, after a trial at which her mother warned he would kill again. Smith went on to commit an almost identical murder of another sex worker, Amanda Walker, 21, in 1999, for which he has served 24 years of a life sentence. Both women were sexually mutilated by Smith, who was known to colleagues as the “Honey Monster” or “Lurch” because of his 6ft 3in height and heavy build. Ms Crump, a secretary in the chiropody department at Wimbledon Hospital, southwest London, had lived a double life as an escort.

Smith, who at the time lived with his parents in Hampton, Middlesex, visited her at her one-bedroom flat in Southall, west London, in 1991, where her mutilated body was found.

Sarah Crump was described as funny, thoughtful with the most amazing smile Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

The defendant denied murdering her but was finally found guilty at Inner London Crown Court this week after Court of Appeal judges ordered a retrial because of “new and compelling evidence”. Mr Justice Bryan on Friday handed him a life sentence with a minimum term of 27 years minus the 479 days he spent on remand in the 90s, meaning he will serve at least 25 years and 251 days. Smith, wearing dark glasses with his head bowed, showed no emotion as he was branded a “sadistic sexual killer” and a “habitual and dishonest liar”.

The judge added: “I have no doubt your pre-meditated and planned intention that night… was to kill and sexually mutilate an escort to satisfy your perverted and sadistic sexual desires.

While on remand awaiting trial for Ms Walker’s murder, Smith, boasted to another inmate he had “got away with it”.

David Smith has been jailed for more than 25 years Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Members of Ms Crump’s family, including her two elder sisters, Joanne Platt and Suzanne Wright, and Jill McTigue, the detective who led the original murder investigation were in court to see the sentence. The judge said he hoped the sentence would give the family “some closure”, telling Smith they would be “safe in the knowledge you have been brought to justice and are likely to spend the rest of your life in prison”. He said the mitigating features were “thin gruel indeed,” adding: “You have shown no remorse whatsoever.” Prosecutor William Boyce KC said then Detective Inspector McTigue had conducted a “professional, rigorous and thorough investigation” but Smith was acquitted in 1993 on the evidence then available. He said the Met’s “considerable dedication and persistence” had brought the case back to court with new evidence including Ms Walker’s similar murder, a cell confession and the linking of fingerprints found in Ms Crump’s flat to the previous owner.

Sarah Crump was found dead in her Southall flat in August 1991 Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Smith’s case was referred to the Court of Appeal and was sent for a fresh trial following a change in the law on double jeopardy in 2003. In a victim impact statement, read in court, from Ms Crump’s eldest sister, Ms Platt said: “I can’t adequately express the pain of knowing what my sister endured.

"My family and I will never come to terms with the brutal savagery of Sarah’s murder. Even after 32 years, having to listen to the details of the attack on Sarah was excruciating. This was always so very important to pursue, to finally see justice for Sarah.” Ms Platt said the family had no idea Ms Crump, who had previously been a psychiatric nurse, had been working for an escort agency, and believed it was because she wanted to fund fertility treatment because of her “strong desire to become a mother. “She was a young woman with a bubbly personality who lived life to the full and was social and popular.

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“She was a trusting and caring person who believed in the good of people and refused to listen to the criticism of others.”

The court heard how Smith had a long history of sexual offending against women dating back to his teenage years in the 1970s.

Jurors heard how he raped a young mother at knifepoint in 1976, and falsely imprisoned an unknown woman in a car around a decade later. The 2005 inquest of Dr Harold Shipman heard how Smith had regularly played cards with the serial killer GP while serving his sentence at Wakefield Prison.