Domestic abuser jailed for 32 years over meat cleaver attack

A domestic abuser who violently beat a woman in her home and later attacked her and her family members with a meat cleaver before going on the run has been jailed.

Cleon Smith has been sentenced to 32 years in prison today (16 September) at Birmingham Crown Court after being found guilty of attempted murder and six other offences. He has also been given a restraining order against all those affected by his crimes. 

Cleon Smith
Cleon Smith 

His campaign of terror started just days after Christmas in the early hours of 27 December, 2019. Just after 5am, Smith violently beat a 42-year-old woman at an address in Moseley, punching her around 20 times and striking her with a metal baton.

The woman suffered a fractured cheekbone and required surgery to her eye. She now wears a permanent metal plate which holds her eye socket in place.

Three days later, around 8.30pm on 30 December 2019, Smith was driving a car in Church Vale, Handsworth which he rammed into another car occupied by the woman and two of her family members.

Both cars stopped and Smith dragged the 42-year-old woman from her car and repeatedly struck her with a meat cleaver. She suffered cuts to her head and a wound to her hand, while a 21-year-old woman was also cut on the hand.

We issued an urgent appeal to the public to help find Smith following the vicious attack. We had a team of officers dedicated to tracing Smith for almost two weeks and executed warrants at 10 separate addresses across Birmingham during the manhunt.

As a direct result of intelligence gathered by officers, followed by a rapid CCTV trawl and search of the Balsall Heath area, they found him hiding inside a kitchen cupboard at an address in Cannon Hill Place, Balsall Heath on 10 January 2020.

Our officers were keen to get justice for the woman and began compiling evidence immediately. As well as recovering and analysing CCTV from the scene of the Church Vale attack, officers traced his movements in the days prior to provide a thorough timeline of events. 

A forensic examination of the meat cleaver was carried out after officers located it in a box during a search of a house in Sherron Gardens. The DNA of Cleon Smith was found on the handle and the DNA from both women he attacked was on the blade. 

Following his arrest and while on remand, waiting for his trial, Smith made several phone calls to the 42-year-old woman in the hope that she would stop supporting 
the prosecution against him.

Police officers, working with the prison, were able to request a search of Cleon Smith and his prison cell. A mobile phone was recovered and subject to a digital examination, which showed it had been used to make the calls.

Smith denied all charges, but overwhelming evidence led to a jury finding him guilty of attempted murder, two assault charges, threats to kill, dangerous driving and witness intimidation.

Investigating officer Sam Blackburn, from Force CID, said: “Cleon Smith is a very dangerous man and we’re pleased he’s now behind bars for the safety of this woman and others.

“Following the attack in Handsworth we deployed a large number of resources to catch him and bring him to justice. 

“Domestic abuse remains a key focus for the force and we’re committed to catching perpetrators. We will do everything we can to safeguard and support victims whilst bringing the offenders to justice. I hope this case and the sentencing result today demonstrates that commitment.”

We have specially trained officers to support victims and also work with charities and refuges across the region.

We’d urge anyone who has suffered domestic abuse to contact us. However, if you do not feel comfortable contacting police there are many other agencies who can offer support and advice. Visit No Excuse for Abuse for more information.

“Ask for ANI" (Action Needed Immediately) enables victims of domestic abuse to access immediate help from the police or other support services, from the safety of their local pharmacy.

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