Simon and Crystal Smith lived in Gosport, Hampshire with their four-year-old daughter. The 30 year old was a Leading Seaman in the Royal Navy and had been with his probation-worker wife Crystal for six years. Crystal was volatile. She controlled Simon’s finances and bullied him by threatening to take their daughter away if he ever left her. Little things could trigger her temper – from losing a board game to a bad-tasting gravy.
On the night of 12 February this year, Crystal and Simon attended a navy function for the crew of HMS Lancaster at the Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea. Simon had been reluctant to take her because he knew from experience that a night out could go very wrong. And he was right to worry.
In front of friends and colleagues, Crystal accused Simon of having an affair. It was an unfounded accusation that left Simon publicly humiliated. In the taxi on the way home, Crystal taunted him with a rap-style song. “I’m going to make it rain,” she sang. “I’m going to make it rain with pain.”
At home, Crystal threw a knife block at her husband, sending knives scattering across the floor. Simon calmly left the house, but made the decision to return for his keys and some belongings. Which was a big mistake.
Crystal had lost control and while Simon was in the bedroom packing a bag, she crept upstairs, clutching a kitchen knife. Simon didn’t hear her and was facing away from Crystal when she plunged the knife into his back three times.
Two of the wounds were at the top of his back, but the third went through the rear of his arm and severed an artery. Blood pulsed out, staining the room.
“What have you done?” Simon cried.
Crystal replied, “I’m going to go to prison for this…”
Simon staggered downstairs, applied a tourniquet and collapsed in the porch in a pool of blood while Crystal fled. As Simon called an ambulance, neighbours who had heard the commotion rushed to his aid.
Simon survived the attack but lost six pints of blood. He faced several operations and has not fully regained the feeling in his left arm.
Police arrested Crystal that night and charged her with attempted murder. With a trial approaching, Simon had one major concern. With men so often the abuser in domestic violence cases, would anyone believe that he was the victim?
The trial started this summer at Portsmouth Crown Court. Crystal had pleaded not guilty. The jury heard how Crystal had “crept up the stairs in stockinged feet” before stabbing Simon three times.
They heard about the domestic abuse Simon had suffered, including an outburst where she’d swung at him with a baseball bat and left a dent in the kitchen door.
Simon bravely gave evidence and talked about how his wife had been verbally abusive at the navy function they’d attended before the stabbing.
“I shut it down, tried to ignore it. I knew things would happen when we got home, that’s how it worked. “The phrase she used was, ‘Wait until we get home’.”
Simon recalled the first he knew about the stabbing was feeling the sensation of warm blood running down his arm.
After three hours of deliberation, the jury cleared Crystal of attempted murder but found her guilty of wounding with intent.
At the sentencing in August, Judge Sarah Munro QC addressed Crystal..
“As he calmly packed his bag you armed yourself with the sharpest knife. You crept up the stairs in stockinged feet and as his back was turned, stabbed him with glancing blows and one went through the back of his arm to the front, severing his arterial vessel and spurting vast quantities of blood all over him and you, and down the stairs as he went to get help.”
The judge added, “I’m quite satisfied the consequences of what you did very shortly hit you and at the time you stabbed Simon, you were fuelled by the fury you had worked yourself up to and had the intention to cause him really serious harm.”
She added that their marriage was ‘doomed to fail’.
Simon’s victim impact statement was read out in court. “I was the victim of sustained physical abuse from my wife Crystal over the six years we were together. Crystal was the only serious relationship I ever had.
“Because I had nothing to compare it to I simply accepted it as normal. This incident has had a profound impact on my life and will continue to do so over many years. I have lost feeling in my left arm and it may never return.”
Simon has taken a shore job in order to raise his daughter, and has been left with recurring nightmares.
As Crystal, 30, was sentenced to nine years she doubled over and hysterically cried out, “Please Simon, tell the truth, please Simon, tell the truth.”
The case put the spotlight on the subject of domestic violence against men. After the trial, Simon said he hopes to move on and raise his daughter.
“I expected to be called a liar and be accused of what she accused me of,” he added.