Court hears man accused of murdering partner had ‘suffered at her hands’

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FAMILY and friends of a man accused of murdering his partner told a trial they saw him with injuries he is said to have suffered at her hands.

The mother of Paul Smart, who is on trial for murdering his common-law wife Angela Smeaton, said she saw her son on several occasions with black eyes and marks to his face.

Defence witnesses also described Ms Smeaton, 50, who Smart admits stabbing to death after a family funeral in April, as someone who could be volatile and aggressive. One described her as “a demon” when she drank.

Smart’s mother, Grace Smart, told Teesside Crown Court she saw her son with injuries around six times with marks including a black eye, burst lip and teeth marks to his chin.

Toby Hedworth, defending, asked Mrs Smart: “Would you ever ask him how he came by these injuries?”

Mrs Smart said: “Yes, I would. He would just keep it to himself.”

She also described an incident when Ms Smeaton criticised her son for not doing anything during an argument involving the couple’s son at a housewarming party.

Mrs Smart said her son called her shortly after the fatal attack on Tuesday, April 15, when Smart killed Ms Smeaton by stabbing her 12 times with a knife at their home in Eddleston Walk, Hartlepool.

She said: “I heard Paul’s voice. He said ‘I’ve killed Angela’.”

A long-time friend of 49-year-old Smart, Anthony Frain, described fish and chip shop owner Ms Smeaton as sociable and outgoing.

The scene of an incdent at Eddleston Walk where the body of Angela Smeaton was found.

The scene of an incdent at Eddleston Walk where the body of Angela Smeaton was found.

But he added: “She was very volatile in certain circumstances. Shouting and screaming in a very intimidatory way.”

Mr Frain, who also worked with Smart in the engineering industry, said he once confided in him that a burn to his shoulder had been caused by Ms Smeaton throwing a hot frying pan at him.

He described Smart as “very pleasant” and quiet natured who would not react to abuse from Ms Smeaton.

Another friend and ex-colleague Jeffrey Dowson said he saw Smart covered in bruises in the mid 1990s.

Mr Dowson said: “He was black and blue, all his back, his arms and his front. He said Angie had done it.”

And Edward Quinn, a retired mechanical fitter, who knew both Smart and Ms Smeaton for years, said of her: “When she was sober, she was a nice girl. When she had a drink, I can only describe her as a demon.”

Smart denies murder and claims he lost his self-control.

The prosecution and defence made their closing speeches to the jury yesterday afternoon. The judge’s summing up is due today.