Nottingham grandmother given increased cruelty sentence on retrial


A Nottingham woman who appealed her conviction for child cruelty has been found guilty at a retrial at Nottingham Crown Court of the original offences and fresh offences committed against another victim.

Juanila Smikle was convicted in 2015 of child cruelty for regular physical abuse of children in her care. She appealed her conviction and in April 2016, the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial. At the original trial, another family member gave evidence that she had suffered abuse at Mrs Smikles hands as a child.

Prosecutors at CPS East Midlands used the opportunity of the retrial to charge Mrs Smikle with new child cruelty offences against this family member and applied to the court to try her for these offences at the same time as the retrial for the original charges. The court agreed and the jury found Ms Smikle guilty of all offences. Today she was sentenced to seven years in prison. Four years were for the original offences and a further three years were added consecutively to her sentence for the new charges.

Sheryl Monk, Senior District Crown Prosecutor at CPS East Midlands said: "Juanila Smikle was convicted for awful offences of abuse against the children, who looked to her for comfort and support. Her brutality was disguised as discipline against unruly behaviour, but the evidence showed a sustained pattern of excessive violence towards children, too young and vulnerable to do anything but endure it. Under the guise of punishment she beat the children with belts and household objects, making them get in ice-cold baths and on some occasions even beat each other. She would deprive them of food and water and punish them when they tried to take it for themselves.

"The allegations made by the new victim showed a similar pattern of offending, so the prosecution applied to the court to try all of the offences together in the interests of justice. Our application was successful and the jury decided that she was guilty of all the charges.

"Rather than showing remorse for the way she had treated her own family, Juanila Smikle continued to deny that her actions were cruel. In appealing her conviction, she forced the victims to give evidence again. Her actions left members of her own family suffering physical and emotional scars. The court has now been able to consider a wider range of offences and her new sentence is justifiably more severe as a result."