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Posted on Thursday 13 May 2021

JAILED: Marty Bates

A man who bludgeoned his friend to death while he slept in his County Durham home has been jailed for life.

Marty Bates carried out the “vicious and callous” attack on John Littlewood – known as John D - at his home in Third Street, Blackhall Colliery, in the early hours of Friday, July 26, 2019. 

His lifeless body was found four days later by his on-off partner on the evening of Tuesday, July 30. 

The 36-year-old suffered catastrophic head injuries after being repeatedly beaten with a blunt instrument. 

A complex and extensive police investigation saw Bates, of Tenth Street, Blackhall Colliery, charged with the brutal murder. He initially denied the offence but changed his plea to guilty during a trial. 

The 31-year-old appeared at Teesside Crown Court today (May 13) where he was jailed for life, with a minimum of 24 years in custody. 

During the sentencing, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Paul Watson QC, commended the investigation team – in particular, DCs Phil McElhone and Karl Hopps from Durham Constabulary’s Major Crime Team. 

He praised their work on what has been a “difficult and long-running investigation” that spanned almost two years. 

Speaking after the hearing, John D’s father, John Littlewood, said: “After 22 long and painful months my family and I can now lay my son to rest knowing that the person responsible for his murder has admitted his guilt.  

“We can now try to move forward, sadly without John D in our lives, but always in our hearts. 

“We would like to thank the police and all those who have provided support to our family throughout this difficult time.”  

His devastated mother, Pamela Hall, also paid tribute to her son and said: “The death of my son John D has destroyed our family, leaving us heartbroken knowing our lives will never be the same again. 

“John D was a loving son and is greatly missed by all that have known him, including myself, my partner Paul, and John D’s sons. 

“The fact my son was murdered was bad enough. This person could have taken responsibility from the day he was arrested, which would have prevented us having to listen to the final moments of John D’s life at the trial. 

“This has been unbearable at times and no words can explain the pain and torture that I have gone through. There are no words to describe the pain, which we all feel, but we hope that the justice served will hopefully give us some comfort knowing the person responsible for the murder of my son can’t harm anyone else. 

“I would like to thank all those who helped get justice for my son, John D, and those who supported us through this terrible time. These include Durham Constabulary, the legal team, and Witness Support, of which without their support this would have been so much more difficult.” 

Detective Superintendent Kevin Weir led the investigation. He said: “As highlighted by the judge today, this was a particularly difficult and complex investigation that spanned several months and involved dozens of specialist officers and staff. 

“The investigation team worked incredibly hard to bring this case to court and I am pleased with today’s result.   

“While nothing can bring John D back, I hope that this result will offer his family some comfort in knowing that justice has been served, and to bring some closure to the terrible suffering they have endured.” 

Co-accused Donna Balfour, 36, of Ninth Street, Blackhall pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by interfering with a CCTV system at her home to attempt to delete footage. 

Her partner, James Riley, 31, also of Ninth Street, Blackhall previously pleaded guilty to intending to pervert the course of justice, witness intimidation, and a further count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to a separate incident. 

They will be sentenced next month. 

A fourth defendant was acquitted of all charges following a trial.

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