Murder accused blamed victim for sending his dad to prison, court hears

Beaten to death: John

Beaten to death: John "Jonty" Hall

First published in News
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A WOMAN told a jury today how a man accused of beating a father-of-two to death with a baseball bat said to him “this is for putting my dad in prison” as he carried out the sustained attack.

Betsy Moan, who claimed she was ordered not to look, heard repeated thuds as John “Jonty” Hall was allegedly attacked in an adjoining room by former school friend Nicholas Rought.

Giving evidence at Newcastle Crown Court, Ms Moan wept as she described hearing Mr Hall’s dying breath.

She said she had been told Mr Rought held a grudge against Mr Hall, who he blamed for his dad being sent to prison years ago.

Mr Hall’s bloodied body was found by a dog walker and his son at Mark’s Lane, West Rainton, near Durham, on September 15.

The 46-year-old of Burn Terrace, Shiney Row, had his throat cut, was stabbed with a fork and had multiple wounds inflicted to his head, body, hands and groin, the court was told.

Mr Rought, 45, of Princess Street, Shiney Row along with Stuart Smith, 42, of no fixed abode, have pleaded not guilty to murder.

Ms Moan said Mr Hall had been in the living room of her house, along with her boyfriend Paul Tate, Mr Smith, Mr Rought and another man on the night of the killing. They were drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis.

Mr Smith had been playing in her wheelchair and fell banging his head. He took exception to a remark Mr Hall made and punched him twice, she said.

Mr Hall retreated to the adjoining dining room, where there was a fight for what "seemed like hours”.

The next morning she saw Mr Tate painting the walls and Mr Rought cutting up the carpet and bagging the strips. She claims not to have seen Mr Hall after he left the living room.

Mr Tate, 49, of Cambridge Road, Silksworth, Sunderland, who had been jointly charged with murder, was found dead in his prison cell.

Trevor Kellett who was arrested and released after questioning was found dead at a house in Chester-le-Street. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.

Both Mr Rought and Mr Smith have pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice in relation to the disposing of Mr Hall’s body.

The trial continues.

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