THE police chiefs who handled the investigation into the murder of Scarborough hairdresser Laura Smith have received Director’s Commendations for their work on the case.
Detective Sergeant Andy Kenyon was recognised for his “remarkable composure, compassion and professionalism” during the initial police response at the murder scene and his management of the investigation which led to the successful conviction of Laura’s former partner, driving instructor Nigel Pickard.
Detective Constable Nigel Pepper was also commended for his role as Officer in the Case. He spent two days interviewing Pickard before charging him with murder, and preparing an excellent court file.
DC Pepper also offered great support to Laura’s family and friends throughout the trial at Leeds Crown Court.
The jury heard Pickard, a 45-year-old driving instructor who ran the Driving Ambition School of Motoring in Scarborough, grabbed Laura by the throat at her home in Southwold Rise, Eastfield, in July last year, just feet from their seven-month-old daughter Olivia, before strangling her in a headlock causing her 55 separate injuries.
The court was told how he had lost his temper with Laura following the break-up of their relationship.
During the five-day trial at Leeds Crown Court he denied choking to death the 29-year-old. However, after two days of deliberation, the jury delivered a majority guilty verdict.
Judge Scott Wolstenholme told Pickard he was a “bitter and resentful” man, who had intended to kill Laura and sentenced him to a minimum of 15 years in prison.
In the days following her death a trust fund was set up to support Laura’s one-year-old daughter Olivia by staff at Westborough salon Hair by Helena, where Laura had worked since the age of 16, and has since swelled to more than £18,000.
All the money raised will be ringfenced under the control of a board of trustees.
More than 300 people attended Laura’s funeral in August last year, with mourners releasing pink star and heart shaped balloons and wearing pink to remember her vibrant personality.
Hundreds of tributes were left on a Facebook tribute page, set up to celebrate her life, and floral tributes were also left at Hair by Helena, as friends attempted to come to terms with the shock of her death.
DS Kenyon and DC Pepper were among a number of officers recognised at a series of awards ceremonies held at North Yorkshire Police’s headquarters for the dedication which helped them solve some particularly complex and sensitive cases.
The investigation team which conducted the enquiry into the deaths of jockeys Jan Wilson and Jamie Kyne, who died when a block of flats in Buckrose Court, Norton caught fire in September 2009, received Judge’s Commenda- tions.
North Yorkshire Police recognised the commendation awarded by the Honourable Mrs Justice Davies QC to the officers involved in the investigation which led to the conviction of Peter Brown, who was convicted of manslaughter at Leeds Crown Court 12 months ago.
The judge said: “It was clearly a very thorough and comprehensive investigation on the part of the police, and I should like my own acknowledgement of their efforts to be passed to the Chief Constable.”
Brown was given an indeterminate sentence and will serve a minimum of seven years before he can be considered for parole.
And PC John O’Malley was recognised for saving the life of a man who was thrown under the wheels of a runaway gritter at the scene of a road traffic collision on Staxton Hill.
While assisting in the aftermath of the collision the man was forced to jump clear as the gritter collided with the crashed cars. However, he fell into the path of the vehicle and with no consideration for his own safety PC O’Malley came to his rescue and dragged him away.
PC O’Malley’s selfless act of bravery prevented the man from being killed or seriously injured.