THE family of a man bludgeoned to death with a claw hammer said their faith in justice has been restored after his killer was sentenced to life in prison.

Daniel Dodsworth was today (Tuesday, April 15) found guilty of the brutal murder of his friend, Darlington man Alan Youngson.

The 25-year-old died from massive head injuries after being hit at least six times in the back of the head with a hammer. His body was then buried in woodland and was not found until almost two months later.

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Screams and cries echoed around the courtroom as jurors at Teesside Crown Court returned their guilty verdict after two-and-a-half hours of deliberation.

Dodsworth, 29, showed no emotion as he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Youngson’s sister, Pamela, said the verdict restored her faith in justice and humanity.

The Northern Echo:

Murder victim Alan Youngson

She said: “He murdered my brother, he buried his body and carried on his normal life while we searched in desperation.

“For the foreseeable future at least Daniel Dodsworth cannot destroy any other lives.”

She also thanked Durham Police and prosecution barristers for their work throughout the investigation and trial.

In a statement read out in court, his mother Michelle said: “He treated my son like he was a piece of garbage that he could dispose of in a rubbish bin.

“Alan isn’t a piece of rubbish, he is my son.”

The Northern Echo:

Tributes to Mr Youngson left near the spot where his body was found

Dodsworth, who has a number of previous convictions for violent assaults, killed Mr Youngson in a drunken rage in the early hours of August 16.

They had spent the evening drinking cider together in the dining room of Dodsworth’s house in Branksome Green, Darlington.

He used a neighbour’s wheelie bin to take the father-of-two’s bloodied body to woodland near the A1(M) where he buried it, covering it with bits of soil, concrete, glass, and a boulder.

He also burned the blood-soaked carpet before replacing it just hours after the attack.

He bleached the walls and floor in an attempt to remove Mr Youngson’s DNA.

Judge Peter Benson said Dodsworth set out on a cold and calculated campaign to cover up the murder.

The Northern Echo:

Cold and calculated: Daniel Dodsworth

Dodsworth initially lied to police investigating Mr Youngson's disappearance, saying he had nothing to do with the murder and had loaned him his bike so he could cycle home on August 15.

Mr Youngson’s body was found by his father, David Youngson, on October 7 – almost two months after he went missing.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Youngson said: “Daniel Dodsworth not only killed Alan, he killed me inside.”

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Edgar said: “The jury today, in reaching their verdict of murder, have seen through Dodsworth’s lies.

“Alan’s family have been devastated by their loss and I sincerely hope that today’s verdict will provide them with some comfort and with the platform they need to begin to move forward with their lives."