AN alleged murderer told a jury his co-accused had lost control in a frenzied baseball attack which left a father-of-two with fatal head injuries.

Stuart Smith said Nicholas Rought was “behaving like a nutter” when he repeatedly struck John “Jonty” Hall with the bat at a home in Shiney Row, Wearside, on September 14.

Giving evidence in his defence at Newcastle Crown Court today (Wednesday, March 26), Mr Smith said he had not taken part in any violence, apart from punching Mr Hall, as trouble broke out.

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Mr Smith, from Shotley Bridge, near Consett, County Durham, said he had been visiting his friend Paul Tate after spending the day drinking.

He claimed Mr Hall had struck him for no reason on the nose and he retaliated by punching him with a “left and a right”.

Mr Smith said he then went into the kitchen and when he returned to the dining room saw Mr Rought standing over Mr Hall with the baseball bat, striking him repeatedly.

He said: “He lost the plot. He lost control. . . 

"When I tried to pull him away he said 'I have waited 23 years for this'.

“He was behaving just like a nutter."

Mr Smith said he tried four times to pull Mr Rought away. At this point said he saw Mr Tate kicking Mr Hall too.

Mr Smith said: “I remember pulling Nicky off him (Mr Hall), saying 'just leave him' and when I turned around Paul Tate was cutting his throat. I just couldn’t get any words out.”

Mr Rought, 45, of Princess Street, Shiney Row and Mr Smith, 42, have denied murder but plead guilty to perverting the course of justice by hiding Mr Hall’s body. Mr Tate, 49, of Cambridge Road, Silksworth, Sunderland, was also charged, but died on remand.

The case continues.