AN ‘innocent hero’ is how detectives described a young man who has died of severe head injuries after trying to save his friend from a beating.

And police believe members of the community hold the key to tracking down the killers who they believe have been bragging about it online.

Shane Tunney died yesterday (Wednesday, July 29) more than a month after being punched, kicked and possibly beaten with an iron bar.

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The 24-year-old and his friend, Anthony Kirk, had been to the cash point at Tesco Express on Norton High Street, near Stockton, when they were pelted with rotten food by a group of youths who were on the rooftop of the store.

This led to a confrontation between the two friends and a gang of youths at the junction of Holly Street.

The pair were kicked, stamped on and punched before the group made off through an alley next to the church, away from the High Street.

In a heroic effort to save his friend from harm, Shane had stopped a passing driver who offered to drive him away from danger but Shane refused and went back to try and help Anthony, who was allegedly being beaten by a number of young males.


The Northern Echo:
Shane Tunney pictured with girlfriend Vix Cooper

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Young, has called on the community to come forward with information after he revealed it is believed that some people have been bragging about the attack.

Speaking at the site of the attack, as officers launched a poster campaign appealing for witnesses to come forward, he said: “This is now a murder investigation and I want to appeal to members of the local community to help us with our inquiries.

“I believe it is members of this community who are responsible for this vicious and savage attack on the hero Shane Tunney and I would look to the community to come forward and to help us bring these offenders to justice.

“I believe that some people may have actually seen what happened. I also believe that, as sickening as it is, some people have heard those responsible for bragging about what has happened and what they did and I really appeal to these people to come forward because in effect they are helping to shield murderers.”

Det Chief Insp Young also said a woman who previously contacted the police anonymously from a phone booth has failed to get back in contact.

Officers believe she has important information and are appealing again for her to get in touch.

Mr Tunney, a car valeter, was assaulted on Norton High Street, near Stockton, in the early hours of Saturday, June 27. His friend escaped with minor injuries.

Seven youths, aged from 16 to 18, were arrested in connection with the assault and have been released on bail pending further inquiries.


The Northern Echo:
Vix Cooper appeals for information at a press conference

Shane's girlfriend Vix Cooper had also appealed to anyone who could help with the investigation to come forward.

At the time she said: "Imagine that this was your partner, son or daughter, brother or sister, or friend. You would want to know everything was being done for your loved one, so please do the same for mine."

Anyone with information should call Cleveland Police on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.