A 66-year-old man has been convicted under double jeopardy legislation of the murder of a woman in Southall in 1991.
David Smith, was found guilty of the murder of 33-year-old Sarah Crump following the conclusion of a trial at Inner London Crown Court today (24 May 2023). Smith had previously been acquitted of Sarah’s murder at the original trial in 1993.
After Smith was acquitted, he went on to murder another woman in 1999 – 21-year-old Amanda Walker – and was subsequently found guilty of that crime later the same year. He has remained in prison ever since.
His conviction for Sarah’s murder follows a re-investigation of the case by detectives based within the Met’s Specialist Casework Team – the Met’s dedicated unit for cold case homicide investigation.
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Reeves said: “David Smith has finally been held to account for this horrific attack he committed over 30 years ago – a crime he thought he had got away with.
“After so many years, it is hugely satisfying that Smith has been brought to justice for Sarah’s murder. My thoughts today are with Sarah’s family and also with the family of Amanda Walker, the young woman who Smith murdered in terrible circumstances in 1999, six years after he was acquitted by a court for murdering Sarah. Both Sarah and Amanda’s families have shown incredible strength, dignity and courage. I can only imagine how difficult it has been for them to have to hear again the details of Smith’s offending against their loved ones.
“It was changes in the law that made it possible in this re-trial to present evidence about the strikingly similar nature of the circumstances and injuries suffered by Sarah and Amanda. This, along with comments made by Smith while awaiting trial for Amanda’s murder, and the evidence bravely provided by other women he had assaulted, left the jury in no doubt that he had attacked and killed Sarah.
“The investigation team also carried out a careful forensic review which identified that a number of fingerprints in Sarah’s flat had been left by the previous owner and did not relate to the murder.
“Smith is one of the most dangerous repeat offenders against women and girls I have ever encountered and this conviction means he faces many more years in prison.”
In a statement, Sarah’s family said:
“At long last justice for our lovely Sarah. If only our Mum & Dad were here with us today to share this momentous occasion.
“After the disheartening acquittal at the Old Bailey in 1993, our Mum said that Smith would kill again. Eight years later, he was found guilty of an even more savage murder and mutilation of a young woman and mother, which he later admitted.
“Thirty years may have passed but we still miss Sarah – she was a shining light in a murky world who wished for the best but found the worst in humanity.
“We would like to thank the tenacity, dedication and teamwork of the Metropolitan Police Service; this is not “just a job” for them and we are so grateful. The same can be said for the legal team, with determination and professionalism shown to ensure the correct verdict was met. Plus all the witnesses who came forward at great personal sacrifice.”
Sarah Crump was a 33-year-old former nurse, working as a medical secretary, who lived alone in a flat in Lady Margaret Road, Southall at the time of her murder in August 1991. Sarah also engaged in escort work – it was through this that she came into contact with David Smith. For personal safety reasons, escorts did not use their own name so Sarah was known as ‘Angie’.
As well as a persistent user of escorts, David Smith is a man with a history of obsessive behaviour and sexual violence towards women. Alongside his two murder convictions, he has also been convicted of a stranger rape in 1976 and the false imprisonment of a woman in 1987. Ten days prior to Sarah’s murder, Smith had been arrested and charged with the attempted rape at knifepoint of an escort at a hotel in Ashford – he was subsequently acquitted of this offence.
He also developed obsessions with women he came into contact with, including one who required various hospital procedures which left distinctive scarring on her body. The injuries inflicted on Sara bore distinct similarities to the scarring left as a result of these procedures. Smith met this woman between late 1989 and 1990, a few months prior to Sarah’s murder in August 1991, and had a brief sexual relationship with her before she broke off contact with him due to his behaviour. He confided to another escort he used in 1990 that he was in love in with this woman.
Smith’s use of escorts predominantly involved him inviting them to his home in Hampton. The day before he came into contact with Sarah, Smith had made three separate attempts to book escorts but for whatever reasons, the meetings did not take place.
The first booking that day was meant to be at Smith’s house but he cancelled. What was different about the next attempted booking, and the booking he ended up making with Sarah, was that Smith was keen for the meeting to take place at the escort’s address.
Smith also made specific efforts to find out if the escort was alone, and they would not be interrupted – concocting a story that he had been attacked during a previous engagement by an escort’s boyfriend. However, it is clear Smith was trying to ensure he would not be disturbed while carrying out his intended attack.
On 28 August 1991, Smith – using the false name ‘Duncan’ – booked Sarah’s services through the Elite Escort Agency, using his work phone in Heathrow to place the booking. Shortly before midnight, Smith arrived at Sarah’s flat but left a short time later to withdraw cash from an ATM in Southall. He returned and, as was standard practice for escort work, Sarah phoned the agency to confirm he had arrived and paid.
It was also standard practice for escorts to call in once a client had left their property, to ensure they were safe and well. Sarah did make a call to the escort agency at around 2:00am on 29 August to state ‘Duncan’ had left but the person she spoke to – who knew Sarah well – noticed the call was short and abrupt, and Sarah did not use her name. It appears Smith had not left the address, and Sarah – realising she was in danger – wanted to try and alert the agency and get help.
That call was the last time anyone else, apart from Smith, heard from Sarah alive. She failed to show up for her work at hospital on the morning of the 29 August and, after concerns were raised for her welfare, officers attended her address on 1 September and found her body.
Sarah had suffered multiple injuries during the attack and there was clear evidence in the bathroom that someone had made efforts to wash blood from themselves.
An investigation was launched and Smith was subsequently identified as ‘Duncan’ due to phone records kept by the escort agency. He was interviewed on numerous occasions by detectives, and continually changed his story as the lies he spun were unpicked.
After initially stating he had never been to Southall or met Sarah, he finally confirmed he was ‘Duncan’ and had gone to her flat on the night of the murder but had left her safe and well.
Smith went on trial for Sarah’s murder in 1993 but was acquitted. In 1999, while awaiting trial for the murder of Amanda Walker, Smith confided to a fellow prisoner that he had carried out a similar attack on a woman around seven years earlier and described some of the injuries inflicted on Sarah; injuries starkly similar to those Amanda had suffered. He boasted to his confidant that he had got away with it at court.
After the law was changed to allow ‘double jeopardy’ prosecutions in certain circumstances, Met detectives started a re-investigation of Sarah’s murder. New evidence was collated alongside existing material and presented to the Director of Public Prosecutions with the request that an application be made to the Court of Appeal to overturn Smith’s acquittal. In 2021 this was granted by the DPP and the following year the Court of Appeal heard the case and ordered Smith’s re-trial.
Detective Superintendent Reeves concluded: “It is over 30 years since Sarah was brutally attacked and murdered in her own home. I hope Smith’s conviction demonstrates our determination to pursue those who commit violent crimes, no matter the length of time that has passed.”
David Smith will be sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on Friday, 26 May.