Harrogate solicitor jailed after breaching restraining order
Last updated Dec 16, 2022
Richard Wade-Smith, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison for breaching a restraining order.
Richard Wade-Smith was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

A solicitor who rammed his car into his wife’s home in Harrogate and subjected her to “mental torture” has been jailed for breaching a restraining order designed to protect her.

Richard Wade-Smith, 66, was spared jail in September after he admitted harassment causing fear of violence, damaging property and drink-driving.

That followed an unrelenting harassment campaign against his now-former partner which culminated in the incident on Boxing Day 2021 when Wade-Smith, who was drunk, rammed his Nissan Qashqai into his wife’s home in Slingsby Walk. 

On that occasion, Wade-Smith received a three-year community order with a rehabilitation programme and restraining order banning from contacting the victim or going anywhere near her property. 

It was hoped that a non-custodial sentence would enable him to “rebuild his life”, but within four days of it being imposed, he went to his wife’s house and knocked on the door.

Restraining order breach

Barrister Kelly Sherif, who was prosecuting at the initial sentence hearing, said it was about 8.15am on September 19 when Wade-Smith’s wife heard a knock at her door. Wade-Smith walked off but about two hours later he returned, knocked on her door again and called her name.

The named victim went to the door, but Wade-Smith, a former “high-powered” lawyer, walked off again.

A neighbour called police and Wade-Smith was arrested. He was charged with two counts of breaching a restraining order and remanded in custody. 

He admitted the offences and was due to be sentenced in October, but Judge Sean Morris adjourned the case to look into the possibility of new hostel accommodation as an alternative to jail.

York Crown Court

York Crown Court.

Wade-Smith, of no fixed address, appeared for sentence at York Crown Court today.

The court heard that under the terms of the restraining order, Wade-Smith was supposed to go straight to Harrogate Borough Council’s offices to seek emergency accommodation following his release from custody in September.

However, Brooke Morrison, prosecuting at today’s adjourned sentence hearing, said there had been a delay in releasing him from custody which meant that when he was freed, the council offices had closed for the day and there was no room for him at any hostels in Harrogate.

He had slept rough on his first night of freedom and failed to get in touch with the council the following day, which meant that his request for hostel accommodation was turned down.

The lawyer slept in an expensive hotel for “one or two nights”, but then got drunk and ended up sleeping on the street.

He claimed that while sleeping rough he had been robbed of his credit cards and woke up in hospital. 

He said that with “nowhere else to go”, he headed for his former marital home. 

Too drunk to get out of car

Wade-Smith, who had worked for various law firms in Yorkshire and latterly ran his own legal service from Wedderburn House, was nearly twice the drink-drive limit when he rammed his car into his wife’s home on Boxing Day.

His wife was woken by a terrible “smashing” noise which she initially thought was an “explosion”. 

Wade-Smith was so drunk that police had to help him out of the car, which was damaged along with the front of the semi-detached home. 

The incident followed months of marital discord in which Wade-Smith falsely accused her of being unfaithful and forced her to flee the house.

Read more:

Wade-Smith, a Cambridge law graduate, had been in a relationship with the victim for about 22 years, but in 2021 his behaviour changed after he started drinking again.

He would “disturb (his wife’s) sleep”, waking her in the middle of the night and demanding she “answer questions” of a personal nature, said the prosecution.

In November last year, she started receiving nasty messages on a “daily basis” from Wade-Smith. On one occasion inside the house, he told her: 

“If you don’t go now, I’ll kick you down the stairs.”

Wade-Smith was said to have been suffering from psychosis and “hypermania” after becoming bipolar in middle age. 

Defence barrister Ayman Khokar said that Wade-Smith “wasn’t in his senses” when he went back to the victim’s home and breached the order.

‘Re-triggered trauma’

Judge Morris, the Recorder of York, told Wade-Smith it was his “own fault” that he was now facing a jail sentence. 

He said although it was true that he had only knocked on his wife’s door, it had “re-triggered the whole trauma of the past and that is why it has caused this (victim) very serious distress”.

He added: 

“She is in a bad way because of you, and it is a form of mental torture.”

Wade-Smith was given a 10-month jail sentence, but he will only serve half of that, less the time he had already spent on remand, before being released on prison licence. 

The judge ordered that the restraining order would remain in place indefinitely.