Jury to deliver verdict in Peter Smith trial

Hilda Owen.
Hilda Owen.

Jurors are out in the trial of Peter Smith, who has denied murdering former Crich pensioner Hilda Owen.

Earlier in the week, Mrs Justice Dobbs had told the jury at Nottingham Crown Court to ignore the fact this was a re-trial.

The defence 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 that Smith (48), was seeking to benefit from her will 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 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.

A verdict is expected by later today.