A devoted wife has revealed how she launched her own investigation to clear her husband’s name after he was accused of historic child sex crimes.
Former NSW police officer Ben Smith was charged with sexually assaulting a child under the age of 16 in December 2016, for incidents that allegedly occurred 20 years ago.
A woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, went to Frenchs Forest police station in Sydney three months before her arrest and accused him of assaulting her over a five-year period beginning when she was 14 and he 16.
But Amy Smith stood by her husband throughout the ordeal and always believed he was an innocent victim of the MeToo Movement, and investigators feared backlash if they didn’t act on their unsubstantiated evidence.
Asked if she ever doubted her husband, Smith told 60 Minutes: ‘No. There were times when she would ask him questions like “Have you ever been in any kind of relationship?” to which he said “No”.
‘I asked him certain questions, definitely. But did I ever doubt that? No.’
Former NSW police officer Ben Smith (pictured with his wife Amy) was charged with horrific child sex crimes in December 2016. He was later found not guilty on all charges.
Ms. Smith conducted her own investigation into her husband’s case by cross-referencing various documents and collecting evidence that the police had shockingly overlooked.
Her husband in 1996 moved to Sydney from the country at age 16 to play rugby league and lived with a local family.
The girl who made the accusations lived in that house.
She claimed that Mr. Smith groomed her and that on 11 occasions over a five-year period he sexually assaulted her.
But Ms. Smith’s detective work turned up several inconsistencies in the woman’s claims.
The most notable breakthrough came when he discovered evidence that refuted allegations that her husband had indecently assaulted the woman three times in the home in 1999.
She proved that Mr. Smith did not live on the property at the time and did not visit at any time during that year because he was healing from a broken leg. This evidence was also supported by the woman’s brother.
“What they (police) said happened couldn’t have happened because he wasn’t there, that’s how we separated it all out,” Ms Smith said.
She said her work “discredited” the timeline of the allegations that the police had drawn up.
“For me, being able to provide all this hard, real, objective evidence was empowering,” Ms Smith added.
Mr. Smith’s wife, Amy (pictured with Ben), stood by her husband throughout the ordeal and always believed that he was an innocent victim of the MeToo Movement.
Ms. Smith conducted her own investigative work and discovered several inconsistencies and evidence that disproves several of the allegations made against her husband.
However, it appeared that the evidence presented was ignored when Mr. Smith’s case went to trial and he faced decades behind bars.
He faced two judicial trials. The first ended with a hung jury.
In the second, he was unanimously found not guilty on all charges.
Other flaws in the investigation were also revealed when it came to light that star witness Aaron Taggart was not interviewed by police for six months after the charges were filed.
“I was the star witness and I knew the truth,” Taggart said.
He explained to detectives that he was happy to make a statement, but was told it would not be necessary.
One of the investigators later told the court that Mr Taggart “did not want to make a statement”.
While Mr. Smith was ultimately proven innocent of the charges, the former police officer says the allegations have completely tarnished his reputation and career.
The couple have now taken the fight to the police and demanded accountability for the botched investigation that cost them $50,000 in legal fees.
While Mr. Smith (pictured) was ultimately proven innocent of the charges, the former police officer says the allegations have completely tarnished his reputation and career.
The couple took the fight to the police and demanded responsibility for the botched investigation that cost them $50,000 in legal fees.
Former homicide detective Gary Jubelin told 60 Minutes that police had not followed up on leads and simply accepted the baseless accusations.
“The police need to understand that this is a responsibility they have. People’s lives are affected,” Jubelin said.
“I am saying that we do not discourage people from reporting these crimes, but as police we have to make sure that we investigate them thoroughly. We cannot lose sight of the fact that these accusations are very serious accusations.
While both Jubelin and the Smiths say they support the MeToo movement that empowers genuine victims of sexual assault to come forward, they believe it may have put pressure on investigators to blindly pursue the allegations.
“We don’t want to sound like people who are against people who file complaints,” Smith said.
“There are victims out there, and they shouldn’t be afraid to come forward,” Amy added.
“But when you have people who don’t do their job well, it’s a hard pill to swallow.”