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Ripper-style killer convicted of murdering west London escort 32 years ago

Sarah Crump (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)
Sarah Crump (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

A modern-day Jack the Ripper who boasted he “got away with it” after murdering a young woman and going on to kill again is now facing the rest of his life in prison.

David Smith, 66, brutally killed and then mutilated 33-year-old Sarah Crump after hiring her for sex at her bedsit in Southall in 1991.

He was identified as the prime suspect in the horrific killing but, to the horror of Ms Crump’s family, he was found not guilty by an Old Bailey jury in 1993.

Smith – who gained the nicknamed ‘Lurch’ and the ‘Honey Monster’ due to his hulking 6ft 3ins frame – went on to kill again after walking free from court.

A second woman, Amanda Walker, 21, was murdered and her body mutilated in a similar way to the attack on Ms Crump.

Smith was put on trial again and convicted of Ms Walker’s murder, and sentenced to life in prison in 1999.

While behind bars awaiting trial for Ms Walker’s murder, Smith boasted to a fellow inmate that he had previously been accused of murder and “walked”.

“He said that they got no evidence on him and that he got away with it”, the prisoner said.

Metropolitan Police officers kept Ms Crump’s murder case under review, and in March last year a second murder trial was ordered by the Court of Appeal.

Detectives and prosecutors presented a compelling case that Smith had been wrongly acquitted of murder in 1993, including the eerie similarities between the killings of the two women, his escalating pattern of sexual offending towards women, and his obsession with escorts.

Advanced in forensic testing also helped to wipe out a key plank of Smith’s defence from the first trial, proving that a second man whose fingerprint was in Ms Crump’s flat could not have been the killer.

At Inner London crown court on Wednesday, Smith was found guilty of murder by a jury.

He will be handed a second life term at a sentencing hearing on Friday by Mr Justice Bryan, and is now set to spend the rest of his days behind bars.

After Smith’s not guilty verdict in 1993, Ms Crump’s mother Pat Rhodes issued a warning – that was to come true – that he “would kill again.”

After today’s verdict, Ms Crump’s older sisters Joanne Platt and Suzanne Wright said in a short statement: “At long last justice for our lovely Sarah. “If only mum and dad were here with us today to share this momentous occasion.”

Ms Crump was a secretary in the chiropody department in Wimbledon Hospital, south-west London and had a previous career as a psychiatric nurse.

But she also worked occasionally as an escort to earn extra money.

Smith, who lived with his parents in Hampton, Middlesex, and made local deliveries for a firm in Heathrow, regularly used sex workers, the court heard.

Prosecutor William Boyce KC said the “intensity” of his use of the service increased in the weeks before Ms Crump’s murder.

“He was someone who developed fascinations and obsessions with some of the women he met in this way,” said Mr Boyce.

“David Smith murdered Sarah Crump and he had visited her flat on August 28 to use her services as an escort girl.

“He used a false name, ‘Duncan’.

“He was the last person known to be inside Ms Crump’s flat before she was discovered to be dead.

“He was there as a paying visitor. For such a visitor, she would have taken off her clothes and lain on the bed where she was found.”

The court heard Ms Crump’s naked body was found “brutally mutilated” with the incisions similar to the surgical scars of a woman Smith had “become obsessed with” and “rejected his attentions”.

Details of Smith’s offending were put before the jury, including the 1976 knifepoint rape of a woman in front of her children, an attempted rape of an escort on August 18 1991, and Ms Walker’s murder where her body suffered “substantial mutilation” after death.

“The murder of Ms Crump was one part in a timeline of escalating violent and sexual offending against women by the defendant, which stretched from his teenage years in the mid-1970s, until his commission of the murder of another sex worker in 1999”, said Mr Boyce.

To overcome Smith’s previous defence case, police tracked down the previous owner of the flat and conclusively linked him to fingerprints in Ms Crump’s flat which had been unidentified at the first trial.

Smith had been able to argue that a second man could have come to the flat after he left and carry out the murder.

Smith has been remanded into custody until sentencing on Friday.