Mistake #3

10 things the Daily Mail got wrong about the trial of Mark Alexander

“Weeks after the disappearance… neighbours noticed there was a smell of ‘rotting sheep’ from the property”.

SP “could not help but notice the strange smell that appeared to be emanating from Samuel’s home”.

“At much the same time, a foul smell was noticed in the cul-de-sac”.

Excerpts from the Daily Mail et al

This just simply wasn’t the case. One resident did complain of an odd and very localised smell around August or September 2009 – but it was emanating from her own property, not ours.

The following extracts are taken from the Honourable Judge Reddihough’s summing-up of the trial:

“‘I was aware during late summer of a horrible smell. It was close by our back door’. She and her husband were keen on watching bats which roosted over their utility room, and it was when they were outside doing that that they became aware of the smell… ‘It was late August or early September… when I first noticed this terrible smell. I initially thought it was the drains, but it wasn’t, and it disappeared after 2 days…’”

According to SPr, the smell “was close by [her] back door”, extending “from the front of [her] garage and into [her] garden by about 6 or 8 metres”. Looking at aerial photographs of the area (with garages circled in red, below), one can see that the smell can only have emanated from her own property, since about half an acre of land separates her property (to the left of the photo) from 2 Prospect Close (to the right). Her husband stated that “The smell seemed to localise in the area between [his] backdoor and 5 to 6 metres towards the field at the back of [his] house, and 5 to 6 metres to [his] garden gate”. If the smell “disappeared after two days” then it can’t have been a corpse, because on the prosecution’s evidence, the body had been left to decompose for two whole months.

“She agreed it was very localised and none of her neighbours had made any mention of it at all… Having been reminded of a David Attenborough film [featuring] a cave full of bat droppings, IPr was not very convinced by a suggestion that this smell was caused by the bats or bats’ droppings” – Hon. Judge Reddihough

I’ve no doubt SPr and her husband were telling the truth when they recalled smelling something, but whatever and whenever it was, there is simply no way that the smell could have emanated from anywhere other than her own garage / back door.

“Bear in mind that nobody beyond SPr ever became aware at any stage of this or any other horrible smell” – Hon. Judge Reddihough

Our home was positioned at the top of the Close, and the garage looked out over the main street and a public footpath. Anyone wishing to enter or leave the Close had to walk past our house – including SPr and her husband, IPr:

“[IPr] went for a run… and had gone past number 2 [(the family home)] in doing that, and there was no sign of this smell as he ran past number 2” – Hon. Judge Reddihough

The village postman came to our front door every morning. Neighbours even went into our garden to water the plants:

“When I went around, the plants looked as though they had been watered, but I didn’t know by who as we hadn’t had any rain” SPi

Had a body been decomposing the garage, as the prosecution claimed, or anywhere else for that matter, all of us would have smelt it: but that just simply wasn’t the case. This was nothing more than a red herring, needlessly deployed by the prosecution to distract the jury from the real substance of the case.

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