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The BBC's Catherine Marston
"West Midlands Police say they will continue to look into Smith's past"
 real 56k

The BBC's David Harrison
"This afternoon Philip Smith is on his way to begin a life behind bars"
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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Inquiry into triple killer's past
Jodie Hyde, Rosemary Corcoran and Carol Jordan
Jodie Hyde, Rosemary Corcoran and Carol Jordan
Police are investigating the possibility that a man jailed for life for murdering three women could be linked to unsolved killings.

Philip Smith, 35, bludgeoned the women to death in Birmingham in the space of four days last November.

Midway through giving evidence during his trial at Leicester Crown Court, Smith changed his plea to guilty.

Relatives of the three dead women - 21-year-old Jodie Hyde, Rosemary Corcoran, 25, and mother-of-six Carol Jordan - say they hope he is never released from prison.

We are all hoping that Philip Smith will never - and I mean never - be allowed into the outside world ever again

James Taylor, victim's brother
After Smith, a 22-stone former fairground worker, was jailed, West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent Ellie Baker said: "Philip Smith is already a triple killer and we would be wrong to leave it at that, we need to search further."

Investigations will go back 20 years across several forces but at present, detectives say he is not being positively linked with any unsolved crimes.

Police are unsure of a motive for the killings but believe lack of permanent sexual relationships may have been a factor.

Smith, from Braithwaite Road, Sparkbrook, had no previous convictions for violence.

Philip Smith
Philip Smith: Brutal killer
Sentencing him to life imprisonment, Mrs Justice Rafferty said: "You robbed three innocent ladies of their lives.

"I suspect that their families will suffer the more as they simply don't understand why you did.

"The brutality of these ladies' deaths, designed by you to evade discovery, showing the coldness with which you dispatched them, is appalling.

"You should clearly have faced up like a man at the overwhelming nature of the Crown's case against you but you chose to put the victims' families through misery which you compounded by this trial."

Body hidden

The unexplained killing spree started on 9 November when two patrolling police officers found the smouldering body of recovering butane gas addict Jodie Hyde.

She was barely recognisable and her body had been hidden near a recreation ground off Golden Hillock Road in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham.

Rainbow Pub, Digbeth
Smith's regular pub in Birmingham
A post-mortem examination, which identified her by fingerprints, showed she had been strangled before being rolled up in a carpet and set on fire.

Hours later, he killed Rosemary Corcoran, whose battered body was found in a wooded lane by a pub landlord off the A38 near Droitwich Spa.

He had befriended both women in The Rainbow pub in the Digbeth area of Birmingham, where he found casual work and operated as an unlicensed taxi driver for customers.

He knocked over his third victim, Carol Jordan, with his car as she walked to work at a care home.

Smith then beat her so severely that she had to be identified from dental records.

'Devastation and heartache'

Rachel Brand QC, defending, told the judge that Smith had indicated to her on Tuesday that he wanted to change his plea and on Wednesday that he wanted the charges read to him again.

As the clerk of the court did so, he answered "guilty" to each charge, prompting tears from some of the relatives of victims, in the public gallery.

James Taylor, Carol Jordan's brother, said afterwards: "The devastation and the heartache that Philip Smith has caused will never fade.

Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham
Smith was trapped by the evidence
"The last eight months have been a nightmare for all of us, especially Carol's husband and children.

"The past is now over but not forgotten.

"We are all hoping that Philip Smith will never - and I mean never - be allowed into the outside world ever again."

Experts from the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham analysed masses of evidence which led to Smith.

The team was headed by Martin Whittaker, who worked closely with detectives from West Mercia Police and their counterparts at the neighbouring West Midlands force.

The investigation to catch Smith involved more than 100 detectives and 50 support staff from West Mercia and West Midlands Police.

Codenamed Operation Green, it was led by the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Sir Edward Crew.

He said: "I would like to record my thanks to all those involved in this inquiry and hope that its success in putting an evil and dangerous man behind bars for life will bring some comfort to the victims' families."

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