Sarah Crump: ‘Sadistic sexual killer’ who murdered west London woman in 1991 jailed for more than 25 years

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

A “sadistic sexual killer” has been jailed for more than 25 years for the murder of a women in west London - as her family finally saw justice three decades after he was cleared of the crime.

Lorry driver David Smith, 67, was acquitted 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, south-west London, had lived a double life as an escort and Smith visited her at her one-bedroom flat in Southall, west London, in 1991.

Smith 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”.

“I must sentence you for this abhorrent murder which was, I am sure, both sexual and sadistic in nature,” the judge told him.

David Smith denied murdering her but was finally found guilty at Inner London Crown Court this week (Met Police)
David Smith denied murdering her but was finally found guilty at Inner London Crown Court this week (Met Police)

“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.”

The judge told Smith, who at the time lived with his parents in Hampton, Middlesex: “You have a history of escalating sexual violence against women.”

He said the killing was part of “an escalating pattern of violence and sexual offending by you against, but not limited to, sex workers,” culminating in the murder of Ms Walker.

Smith was convicted of that murder in 1999 and has already served 24 years of a life sentence.

After he was found guilty of Ms Walker’s murder, Ms Crump’s mother Pat Rhodes said: “I truly believe Smith to be guilty of the murder of my daughter Sarah. I said at the trial that he would kill again.”

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

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.

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 she was speaking on behalf of the family, including her parents who have died.

“I can’t adequately express the pain of knowing what my sister endured,” she said. “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”.

“We would now like to remember Sarah for who she was to us - the sister with the most amazing smile, a funny, thoughtful aunt and the daughter who was one of the three best girls in the world” - the phrase now “tragically” on her headstone.

“She was a young woman with a bubbly personality who lived life to the full and was social and popular,” she said.

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

Mr Boyce told a jury how Ms Crump’s murder in the early hours of August 29 1991 was part of his “escalating pattern of violent and sexual offending against women” dating back to his teenage years in the 1970s.

He said the killing “bore a number of similarities” with the murder and mutilation of Ms Walker in 1999.

Her body was found in a shallow leafy grave near the Royal Horticultural Society gardens at Wisley in Surrey - a spot notorious for couples meeting to have sex - nearly six weeks after she disappeared from Paddington, west London.

Mr Boyce said Smith developed “fascinations and obsessions” with some of the women he paid for sex and had allegedly tried to rape an escort just 10 days before the killing - he was acquitted of attempted rape at the Old Bailey.

Jurors were also told Smith 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.