For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Middlesbrough man savagely beaten to death before being dumped in bath, court told
A MAN was found savagely beaten to death in his flat by his brother after failing to turn up at work, a court heard.
Initially John Coates’ death was treated as unsuspicious after he was discovered naked in a full bath last September.
However, a post mortem revealed he had suffered severe head injuries and a murder inquiry was launched.
Within days one of his neighbours, Robert Baker, was arrested in his flat in Fleet House, on Cargo Fleet Lane, Thorntree, Middlesbrough, while playing on an X-Box console belonging to Mr Coates.
Mr Baker, 24, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder between Sunday, September 9 and 13 last year.
Opening the trial at Teesside Crown Court today (Tuesday 28), Nicholas Lumley, prosecuting, said a thumb print belonging to the defendant was found in blood on a piece of plastic found in the flat, placing Mr Baker at the crime scene.
He said: “Robert Baker touched that disc when it was already covered in the blood of John Coates, the man he had already assaulted. It places him at the fatal scene of the fatal assault, at the time of the fatal assault.”
He said friends and neighbours described Mr Coates as a quiet man who had few friends and even fewer enemies.
“He had not died at his own hand, by accident or natural causes,” said Mr Lumley. “He had been savagely beaten to the head with a hammer or some such weapon.
“His killer removed his clothes and dumped him naked in the bath where he was left.”
The court heard how the killer had attempted to clean all traces of blood from the flat before leaving with the victim’s clothing and stealing an X-Box, games and a tablet-style computer.
The 61-year-old’s brother Raymond told Teesside Crown Court how his brother was a quiet man who had overcome alcoholism and prostate cancer.
The jurors were shown CCTV footage of Mr Baker coming and going from the block of flats the day after it is believed Mr Coates was murdered with bags containing the stolen property.
They were also told how Mr Baker bought bleach and a pack of toothbrushes which he used to clean an X-Box in a friend’s flat which was matched by the serial number to the one owned by Mr Coates.
The trial, expected to last more than two weeks, continues tomorrow (Friday).