Jailed for life: The 'kind neighbour' who raped and murdered a 10-year-old girl and her mother
05th February 2010
Double killer: Ex-soldier Thomas Smith already had a conviction for molesting a young girl when he befriended Holly Fallon, 10, and her mother Diane
A convicted sex offender tortured and murdered a mother and her 10-year-old daughter whom he had befriended in the guise of a kind neighbour.
Former soldier Thomas Smith, 26, brutally raped terrified school girl Holly Fallon before strangling her and her mother Diane, 43, with a computer games console cable using a technique he perfected in the army.
Both had been subjected to extreme violence and 'sadistic torture' as well as sexually assaulted, a court heard.
Smith hid Holly's body under stones in a river and dumped her mother's body in undergrowth four miles from her home in Cronberry, Ayrshire.
The victims had no idea of Smith's criminal background. A 'platonic friendship' had developed between them and they had gone to his flat after he invited them to play on his new pool table.
Shortly before she was attacked Holly wrote her final entry in her beloved diary.
She wrote: '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.'
Smith was jailed for a minimum of 32 years at the High Court in Glasgow after admitting raping and murdering Holly and murdering her mother.
Judge Lord Turnbull told him: 'Even in these courts where we here see the worst of humanity, your conduct stands out as exceptional.
'You have set a benchmark for atrocity below which it is difficult to imagine anyone sinking.'
Lord Turnbull said it was up to the parole board to decide if Smith is ever released from prison.
The court heard Smith had lied to police about what happened and has never revealed what he did to his defenceless victims.
Smith was on the sex offenders' register after indecently assaulting another 10-year-old girl in Teesside.
He was jailed for six months for this offence in 2006 and moved back to his home town in Scotland after his release.
'Sadistic torture': Holly Fallon, 10, and her mother Diane, were murdered by Smith
Although he was complying with the terms of the register and known to Strathclyde Police, his neighbours were unaware of the threat he posed to little Holly, who was described as a 'popular and intelligent child.'
On 28 March last year the mother and daughter took part in a community fun day. That evening Diane, a mother-of-four, exchanged texts with her neighbour and arranged to play pool on his table.
Jobless Smith, a former private in the Royal Logistics Corps, was celebrating his birthday that day.
Only Smith knows what caused him to brutally attack them that night.
The judge told him:'Their family and friends are left with the dread that Holly may have been kept alive and abused for some time after her mother died. What you did to each of your victims was sadistic torture.'
A massive police hunt was launched after a friend reported them missing.
On 8 April Smith confessed to his father that he had 'accidentally' killed the pair, claiming Diane had attacked him with a knife. Mr Smith senior went to police and the victims hidden bodies were found.
Holly's semi-naked remains were found underwater and covered with dozens of rocks.
She had her new pyjama bottoms - given to her as a present on the day she died - tied around her right ankle and her face was covered with a jacket.
Holly had head injuries and significant internal injuries from the sex attack. Smith's DNA was found on her body.
Diane's hands had been tied behind her back with a computer cable. She had a fractured skull and pelvis and three broken ribs as well as fractures to bones in her throat. She also had injuries to her private parts.
Derek Ogg, QC, prosecuting, said: 'The accused's only recorded attempts to describe these events contain demonstrable lies, not least his denial of any sexual contact in the murder of Holly.'
He added that if Smith had not confessed to the double killing it was not certain the bodies would have been recovered.