Pathologist raises doubts over murder conviction

A TOP pathologist has raised concerns about the conviction of a man jailed for life for the murder of Bottesford schoolgirl Rosie May Storrie.

Rosie May, 10, died after being found unconscious at a Christmas party that she attended with parents Graham and Mary Storrie in Normanton in December 2003.

Paul Smith, of Sedgebrook, was jailed for life in 2004 after being found guilty of smothering her.

But pathologist Nat Cary, who carried out a postmortem examination on Rosie May, says the jury at the trial was given incorrect information about the injuries she suffered.

Dr Cary told the BBC this week: “As I understood it, the prosecution case was very much along the lines that she’d been smothered, so she had been actively been forced down into bedding, for instance, or soft furnishings, so her airway had been compromised, effectively by covering of the nose and mouth. What I’m saying is something rather different, that her airway had been compromised by compression of the neck.

“A likely scenario would be that the neck was compressed by the pulling of clothing ... it raised the possibility of some sort of semi-accident or experimentation with pulling of clothing, or it raises the possibility of control without any specific intention to cause harm.

“If the scenario was proposed to be one of deliberate smothering, I don’t think the evidence is there to support it.”

Smith, who has Asperger’s syndrome - a form of autism that can cause sufferers to have limited social skills - is currently serving his sentence at Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight.

His family hope Dr Cary’s concerns about the safety of the conviction will be enough to allow a new appeal to be lodged.

Dad Nigel Smith said: “I’ve always said right from the start that I knew where Paul was when it happened. He was with me apart from a very small toilet break at the end of the evening. That’s helped me keep going through these seven years.

“With the greatest of respect to Graham and Mary Storrie, they can’t be comfortable with this. Nat Cary is so unbiased that I would like them to add their voice to this. I feel their closure would be more comfortable knowing Rosie May died in a game that went wrong rather than in some sort of dark deed.”

During Smith’s trial it was revealed he had made previous attacks on girls and that pressing his victims’ faces into bedclothes had been a consistent factor.

In one incident he bound a girl with tape, bundled her into the boot of his parents’ car and drove into the countryside. He later abandoned her at the roadside and handed himself in at Bottesford Police Station after knocking down a cyclist. He was convicted of dangerous driving.

Smith’s family says his Asperger’s syndrome means he would find it impossible to tell and maintain a lie.

Although he admitted doing wrong on previous occasions he continues to deny any involvement in Rosie May Storrie’s death.

Rosie May’s parents, Graham and Mary Storrie, were unavailable to comment.