A man from Warrington has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of murdering his partner in a violent and frenzied attack.
Today, Wednesday 17 October, William Smart was told he will serve a minimum of 19 following a eight-day trial.
The incident took place on the evening of 10 April at Angela’s home in St Elphins Close sometime after 6.30pm.
It is believed Smart, 55, of Winmarleigh Street, and Angela had spent the day together at her house drinking wine, vodka and whiskey. Angela was seen leaving her home and visiting her local Sainsbury’s supermarket several times to buy these items as well as Easter decorations with money Smart claimed was his.
When she returned to the flat Smart was unhappy that she had spent his money on Easter decorations and vodka - which was not his usual drink of choice and she had not bought any food.
A witness heard an argument in the afternoon coming from Angela’s flat. Another witness heard an argument in the morning. It is at some point in the evening that Smart became extremely violent, which resulted in Angela, aged 40, being repeatedly kicked and punched.
The injuries she sustained were so severe that there was little chance of survival and, despite the best efforts of the emergency services, there was nothing more they could do.
Around 9.30pm, following the attack, Smart left Angela’s home and went first for some food before buying alcohol at Bargain Booze on Marsh House Lane.
He was in an emotional and drunken state with blood on his face. While buying a bottle of alcohol Smart slurred his words and became aggressive and made comments to staff and customers about harming a woman.
A customer asked a member of staff to call police as she was worried about his behaviour. Smart continued to be aggressive as he left the shop and stood shouting on the other side of the road.
He was then seen going into a pub on Padgate Lane where he appeared ‘spaced out and drunk with blood on the side of his face’ and was wearing a hat. Smart went into the toilet for a while and when he emerged he was no longer wearing a hat and the blood on his face had gone.
An officer arrested Smart after locating him shortly after at 10.53pm walking along Padgate Lane and he made obscene remarks about Angela.
At 10.40pm the same evening, enquiries led officers to Angela’s home in St Elphins Close where they discovered her lying on the floor. She had a blanket laid over her and had extensive injuries to her face.
Paramedics treated Angela at the scene and she was taken to Warrington Hospital where she sadly died.
In the run-up to the murder a witness told the court how Smart bought a bouquet of flowers from a florist in Warrington for Angela. His behaviour was described as erratic and offensive, which concerned staff. When asked repeatedly what he wanted written on the card he made strange comments about beating her up and referred alarmingly to a knife on the counter.
When interviewed by officers he denied being involved in Angela’s death and told police he had been temporarily staying with her at her home. Before the trial Smart admitted to killing Angela but said he couldn’t remember how it happened.
On the day she died, Smart said he woke up at her house and put on a blue t-shirt, which was later found in the living room heavily blood stained.
Smart said he remembered watching Angela dancing in the lounge area before passing out.
When he came round he claimed he saw her lying on the floor with blood coming from her nose and he put a red blanket on her before he left the house.
When asked why he didn’t raise the alarm or try to help Angela, Smart said that he didn't think that her injuries looked that bad.
A post mortem examination concluded that Angela died from multiple blunt force trauma to the head. She sustained up to 49 injuries to her head, face and neck and over 100 injuries in total.
Following a thorough investigation by the force’s Major Investigation Team Smart was subsequently charged with her murder.
Detective Inspector Kate Tomlinson, who was in charge of the investigation, said: “Today justice has been served for Angela and her family. Our thoughts remain very much with them as they continue to come to terms with their tragic loss.
“His actions that day were vicious and Smart showed nothing but rage as he relentlessly attacked Angela leaving her with horrific injuries and no chance of survival. During my 24 years in the police service I have never come across a case of such brutality.
“I cannot begin to comprehend what Angela would have gone through that fateful night as well as the agonising and heart breaking pain her family has felt since she passed away. This has been a devastating time for them and their lives have changed forever.
“Over the past six months detectives from the force’s Major Investigation Team have worked tirelessly to piece together this case and I would like to thank all the officers and staff who have been involved.
“We will never truly understand what happened that day and why Smart did what he did. No prison sentence will ever bring Angela back but the guilty verdict today ensures that a dangerous man has been taken off the streets for a long time.”
Angela's brother David Craddock, said: "We would like to firstly thank the jury and judge for the decision and sentencing today. And also everyone who has supported us throughout this very difficult period.
"Knowing William Smart can no longer be free to hurt another woman, we are somewhat comforted by the decision today. Angela was an intelligent, artistic and compassionate woman, she was also a very vulnerable woman.
Our family continue to grieve, so thank you for respecting our privacy."
Richard Riley, Senior Crown Prosecutor with MerseyCheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: “There was so much evidence pointing to the fact that William Smart had knowingly and brutally murdered Angela Craddock that it is unfathomable why he pleaded Not Guilty to this awful crime.
“His defence appeared to be that he had killed her but didn’t mean to. The awful extent of the injuries to Ms. Craddock makes a nonsense of that claim.
“But he continued to deny that he was responsible for what he had done and Ms. Craddock's relatives were forced to go through the dreadful events of that day in a trial.
“The Crown Prosecution Service insisted that William Smart knew what he was doing on that day and showed little remorse for it afterwards. The jury have agreed with that view and found him guilty of murder. This all must have been a dreadful ordeal for the victim’s family and the Crown Prosecution Service extends sincere condolences to them.”