Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Rapist who murdered mother and girl jailed for 32 years

Thomas Smith
Smith raped and murdered Holly Fallon and killed her mother

A convicted sex offender has been jailed for a minimum of 32 years for raping and murdering a 10-year-old girl and murdering her mother.

Thomas Smith, 26, lived next door to Diane Fallon, 43, and her daughter Holly in Cronberry in Ayrshire.

Smith killed the pair in March last year then hid their bodies.

Judge Lord Turnbull told him: "You have set a benchmark of depravity below which it is difficult to imagine any other human being sinking."

The High Court in Glasgow heard that the 26-year-old former soldier was on the sex offenders register after a sexual offence against another 10-year-old girl in Teesside in northern England in 2006.

Strathclyde Police said it was carrying out a full review of how Smith was managed.

Diane and Holly Fallon were missing for 11 days before police discovered their bodies after a massive search operation.

Diane Fallon's sister Deborah Weir made a statement outside court

The court was told that Smith strangled them with a cable from a games console, using a technique he perfected while in the army.

Speaking after the sentencing, relatives of Diane and Holly Fallon described Smith as "evil personified".

Mrs Fallon's sister, Deborah Weir, said: "There are no words in the human vocabulary which can describe the evil that stood in the dock today.

"He has taken the lives of two innocent people, in a most brutal and horrific manner.

"Diane, a loving mother, daughter, sister and aunt and Holly, a beautiful sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin.

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It went on: "Their loss has had a huge impact on us as a family. Our lives will never be the same again, there will always be something missing.

"We believe that justice has been done for Diane and Holly, and we can take some comfort in the knowledge that he's going away for a very long time."

Derek Ogg QC, prosecuting, said Mrs Fallon and Smith had a "platonic friendship" although she was unaware he was a registered sex offender.

On the day of the killings Smith was celebrating his birthday and exchanged texts with Diane Fallon arranging to play on his new pool table at his flat.

Mr Ogg said the last entry in Holly Fallon's diary was about the visit.

It read: "Dear diary, I am in Tom's house. My mum and he are playing snooker. I want to play and I hope I can. Love you, bye."

Holly and Diane Fallon
The bodies of Holly Fallon and her mother Diane were found in Ayrshire

Just hours later Smith, a former private in the Royal Logistics Corps, murdered the pair.

The court heard that the head teacher at St John's Primary in Cumnock became concerned when Holly failed turn up for classes.

A friend of Diane Fallon reported to police that the pair were missing.

It soon became evident that unemployed Smith was the last person to see them alive.

The former soldier later confessed to his father that he had "accidentally" murdered the pair, claiming that Diane had come at him with a knife.

What you did to each of your victims is to my mind more properly described as sadistic torture.
Judge Lord Turnbull

Holly Fallon's body was found hidden under stones in a river. The body of her mother was discovered in undergrowth outside the village of Craigens.

Speaking after the conviction, Geri Watt, area procurator fiscal for Ayrshire, said: "Exactly what happened to Holly and Diane in their final few hours is still unclear, but the evidence shows that Smith subjected each of them to a prolonged and terrifying attack and committed serious sexual assaults against them.

"It has been very important to all of us in the prosecution service to ensure that he was brought to justice for these truly horrific crimes."

Det Chf Supt John Mitchell of Strathclyde Police said it was "only right" that the force conducted a review into the management of Thomas Smith.

The Fallon's home in Cronberry
Smith lived next door to the Fallons in Cronberry

He added: "We shall be sharing the content of this review with the family and then submitting it to an independent, multi-agency process.

"If lessons can be learned from this case, rest assured they will be."

"This was a despicable crime that has devastated a family and shocked the community of Cronberry as well as the rest of the country.

Passing a life sentence, Lord Turnbull said Smith would have to serve at least 32 years in prison before he could apply for parole.

He added: "What you did to each of your victims is to my mind more properly described as sadistic torture.

"You told nothing like the truth about how each had been murdered.

"Even in these courts, where we here see the worst of humanity, your conduct stands out as exceptional."

As Smith was led away, there were shouts of "rot in hell" and "hope you are tortured in prison as you tortured them" from the public gallery.



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