It may never be safe to set this South Yorkshire killer free, fears judge

Killer: Craig Smith.
Killer: Craig Smith.

A ‘HIGHLY disturbed’ man who strangled his housemate to death has been jailed indefinitely to protect the public.

Craig Andrew Smith, aged 27, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility - after killing Henry Mackellar for barging past him on the stairs in the house they shared in South Yorkshire.

Judge Roger Keen QC told Smith: “You will stay in prison until the parole board feel it is safe to release you back into the community. In my judgement, that will be never.”

Sheffield Crown Court heard Smith acted informally as a carer for 50-year-old Mr Mackellar - an alcoholic who suffered from epilepsy. The older man had been drinking heavily in the early hours of March 22 this year when he pushed past Smith on the staircase of their home in Belmont Street, Mexborough, nearly knocking him down the stairs.

Smith demanded an apology, but Mr Mackellar retreated to his room. Smith followed him in and strangled him.

When paramedics arrived at 2pm the next day Mr Mackellar was pronounced dead, and rigor mortis had already set in.

Adrian Waterman QC, defending Smith, said: “The background of his life was the opposite of what could be described as nurturing. By the age of one, in addition to his core developmental problems, there were strong suspicions of non-accidental injury.”

Jailing Smith indefinitely, but with eligibility for parole in four years, Judge Keen told him: “You are a highly disturbed individual with a severe and untreatable personality disorder not of your making, which severely impairs your ability to exercise self-control. You yourself are frightened you will commit further similar offences.”