Jailed for life: The ‘kind neighbour’ who raped and murdered a 10-year-old girl and her mother
A convicted sex offender tortured and murdered a mother and her 10-year-old daughter whom he had befriended in the guise of a kind neighbour.
Former soldier Thomas Smith, 26, brutally raped terrified school girl Holly Fallon before strangling her and her mother Diane, 43, with a computer games console cable using a technique he perfected in the army.
Both had been subjected to extreme violence and ‘sadistic torture’ as well as sexually assaulted, a court heard.
Smith hid Holly’s body under stones in a river and dumped her mother’s body in undergrowth four miles from her home in Cronberry, Ayrshire.
‘Sadistic torture’: Holly Fallon, 10, and her mother Diane, were murdered by Smith
The victims had no idea of Smith’s criminal background. A ‘platonic friendship’ had developed between them and they had gone to his flat after he invited them to play on his new pool table.
Shortly before she was attacked Holly wrote her final entry in her beloved diary.
She wrote: ‘Dear diary, I am in Tom’s house. My mum and he are playing snooker. I want to play and I hope I can. Love you, bye.’
Smith was jailed for a minimum of 32 years at the High Court in Glasgow after admitting raping and murdering Holly and murdering her mother.
Judge Lord Turnbull told him: ‘Even in these courts where we here see the worst of humanity, your conduct stands out as exceptional.
‘You have set a benchmark for atrocity below which it is difficult to imagine anyone sinking.’
Lord Turnbull said it was up to the parole board to decide if Smith is ever released from prison.
The court heard Smith had lied to police about what happened and has never revealed what he did to his defenceless victims.
Smith was on the sex offenders’ register after indecently assaulting another 10-year-old girl in Teesside.
He was jailed for six months for this offence in 2006 and moved back to his home town in Scotland after his release.
Although he was complying with the terms of the register and known to Strathclyde Police, his neighbours were unaware of the threat he posed to little Holly, who was described as a ‘popular and intelligent child.’
On 28 March last year the mother and daughter took part in a community fun day. That evening Diane, a mother-of-four, exchanged texts with her neighbour and arranged to play pool on his table.
Jobless Smith, a former private in the Royal Logistics Corps, was celebrating his birthday that day.
Only Smith knows what caused him to brutally attack them that night.
The judge told him:’Their family and friends are left with the dread that Holly may have been kept alive and abused for some time after her mother died. What you did to each of your victims was sadistic torture.’
A massive police hunt was launched after a friend reported them missing.
On 8 April Smith confessed to his father that he had ‘accidentally’ killed the pair, claiming Diane had attacked him with a knife. Mr Smith senior went to police and the victims hidden bodies were found.
Holly’s semi-naked remains were found underwater and covered with dozens of rocks. She had her new pyjama bottoms – given to her as a present on the day she died – tied around her right ankle and her face was covered with a jacket.
Holly had head injuries and significant internal injuries from the sex attack. Smith’s DNA was found on her body.
Diane’s hands had been tied behind her back with a computer cable. She had a fractured skull and pelvis and three broken ribs as well as fractures to bones in her throat. She also had injuries to her private parts.
Derek Ogg, QC, prosecuting, said: ‘The accused’s only recorded attempts to describe these events contain demonstrable lies, not least his denial of any sexual contact in the murder of Holly.’
He added that if Smith had not confessed to the double killing it was not certain the bodies would have been recovered
HMA v THOMAS BENNIE SMITH
Today at Glasgow High Court Lord Turnbull sentenced Thomas Bennie Smith to life imprisonment for the murder and sexual abuse of Diane and Holly Fallon between 28 March and 8 April 2009. The punishment part was fixed at 32 years.
On sentencing Lord Turnbull made the following statement in court:
“You have chosen not to say what you did to this mother and daughter. You have also chosen not to say why you did these terrible things.
The consequence is that their friends and family members will for ever be left with the torment of imagining what could have happened to cause such appalling injuries and in what order the various events took place.
In particular they will be left with the dread that Holly may have known of her mother’s fate and may have been kept alive and abused for some time after her mother was killed.
Ordinary language cannot adequately describe the level of violence which you engaged in. To say that you sexually abused each of your victims would be to cloak your conduct in a veneer of understatement which disguises the true nature of your activities.
What you did to each of your victims is to my mind more properly described as sadistic torture.
I will take what account I can of the fact that you accepted your responsibility in a general sense from an early stage. Although it is perfectly obvious that you told nothing like the truth about how they had been murdered.
However even in these courts, where we hear and see the worst of humanity and where acts of depravity and atrocity are regularly described, your conduct stands out as exceptional.
In perpetrating these crimes you have set a bench mark for atrocity below which it is difficult to imagine any other human being sinking. The sentence which is imposed must mark that fact.
The sentence for murder is fixed by law as life imprisonment. Most people who are sentenced to life imprisonment become eligible to be released on parole at some stage.
Whether you will ever be released, or whether you will serve your whole life in prison is not for me to determine. That will be a matter for the Parole Board and the relevant Government Minister.
What I must do though is set a minimum period which must pass before you will ever even be entitled to apply for parole. That period is known as the punishment part.
In fixing that period I take account of the terrible physical injuries inflicted by violence on each victim.
I take account of the fact that you took two lives, one being only a child.
I take account of the sexual torture inflicted on each victim, including the anal and vaginal rape of the 10 year old girl.
I take account of the fact that you disposed of their bodies in the most callous fashion imaginable.
As set against these features the mitigation offered on your behalf is slight indeed.
One each charge I will impose a sentence of imprisonment for life. These sentences will run concurrently and date from 9 April 2009.
On each charge I would have imposed a punishment part of 35 years in prison. Given the fact that you have pled guilty I am obliged to consider restricting that to reflect your plea and the utilitarian value which it represents.
Given the history of this case I will restrict the appropriate punishment part on each charge by a period of three years, meaning that the punishment part imposed on each charge is 32 years”.