Peter Smith Murder Trial: Judge sums up as Skegby murder case draws to a conclusion

07-0382-3   AW'The scene of crime  at West Hill Skegby. Foresics enter the building
07-0382-3 AW'The scene of crime at West Hill Skegby. Foresics enter the building

The judge has been summing up in the trial of Peter Smith, who denies the brutal murder of 71-year-old Skegby widow Hilda Owen.

Mrs Justice Dobbs told the jury at Nottingham Crown Court to ignore the fact that the hearing was a re-trial.

The defence team had suggested it might be another man, Callum Adams, who had committed the offence.

But it was for the prosecution to prove it was Smith who had murdered his next door neighbour in West Hill in February 2007.

It is alleged Smith (48), was seeking to benefit from her will, which left him her house and everything else, in order to solve his financial problems.

The judge said there was no dispute Mrs Owen was murdered. The issue was whether the Crown had proved it was Smith who murdered her.

There was no direct evidence of the commission of the crime, the judge told the jury. “The prosecution rely on circumstantial evidence.

“It can be powerful evidence, but it is important you examine it with care.”

The jury were reminded that when Smith was 17 he had pleaded guilty to a burglary, in which he entered a friend’s home and stole some money. But he had no other convictions.

Callum Adams had been convicted of killing a gay partner in 2009, two years after the death of Mrs Owen.

The judge said the jury had to consider whether Smith had told lies to the police.

If he did, there may be innocent explanations. Lies alone could not prove the case against him.

The judge said the jurors had heard evidence from many experts, with fingerprint evidence alone taking up many days of the trial.

But it was only part of the evidence as a whole and the jury could either accept it or reject it. Fingerprint experts had given conflicting evidence.

The prosecution had said their fingerprint expert – who identified a fingerprint in blood on a door handle at Mrs Owen’s home as Smith’s – was only the ‘icing on the cake.’ They maintained they had enough other evidence without it.

The trial continues.