Nine years ago, the region was shocked when the skeleton of Mark Corley was found on farmland, apparently executed in a gangland killing. Lauren Pyrah joins Mark’s father, Tony, as he visits the site where his son’s body was found

LYING about half a mile from a little-used Roman road on remote farmland, the ditch where Mark Corley’s skeleton was found, after he was executed nine years ago, is bleak and isolated.

Filled with snow in the depths of winter, close to a small brook, it is hard to believe the spot is next to a bridleway popular in summer with walkers and riders.

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The Northern Echo: Map showing the location where Mark Corley's body was found.

Cattle farmer David Lowe found 23-year-old Mark’s remains in December 2000 on the site, at Bolam Grange Farm, between Bolam and Summerhouse, in County Durham.

He said: “People could have been walking past him for six months. He could have been there all that time, bless him.

“We were cleaning the ditch out. I was waiting for a bit of pipe to turn the corner, leaning over the fence. That is when I saw him. I knew straight away it was a person’s body.”

Forensic scientists determined that Mark, who was from Grantham, in Lincolnshire, died from a single shotgun blast to the head, in what has been described as a gangland-style execution.

It is thought Mark was killed near where his body was found.

For Mark’s father, Tony, 56, the trip is a difficult one. It is the first time since his son’s death that he has made the journey to see where his son was found.

He said: “Seeing the field has made me very, very sad. I have not taken it in fully yet.

I do not think I am going to be able to shake it off.

“I have tried to picture it in my mind before, but now I have seen it. That is where he spent his last minutes of his life. That is where his life ended.

“We will never know what happened – why they got out of the car there, whether Mark knew something was up, ran for it and was shot, or whether they marched him down and killed him.

“Only Mark and the people who did it will ever know.

“For the rest of my life, I am going to have that running around my head.”

Mr Corley said he had hoped his son, who had spent time in prison for burglary and drug offences, would turn his life around, and added: “Mark was no angel, but he was not a bad person. He was easily led and got in with the wrong crowd. That cost him his life.”

The retired builder’s anguish has been compounded by the fact no one has been convicted of Mark’s murder.

Five men charged in connection with the killing walked free from Nottingham Crown Court in 2002 after the case collapsed following allegations that Lincolnshire Police illegally bugged suspects’ conversations with lawyers.

An investigation into the allegations led to 11 officers being disciplined.

Mr Corley, who lives in Asfordby, Lincolnshire, said he has been helped by Birmingham- based Support After Murder and Manslaughter group, but has never found closure.

He dismisses his son’s murderers as cowards.

He said: “I used to be edgy when there was a knock at the door, but now I am not bothered.

If they want to come and get me, they can. I want to keep them on edge, I want to keep it in the news.

“Anyone who can do that to someone is a total coward.”

He said he was disappointed by the way the case had been handled by Lincolnshire Police, and said: “I have never seen justice for Mark. That makes it more difficult. I do not think I will ever get closure.

It is not something you ever get over.”