A MURDER trial took a dramatic twist when a defendant changed his plea to guilty.

Marty Bates previously denied the murder of John Littlewood, 36, and has been standing trial at Teesside Crown Court for several weeks.

The trial changed direction when the charge was put to him again and he pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon.

Mr Littlewood suffered fatal head injuries when he was attacked in his own home with a hammer.

The jury had heard how Bates was caught on CCTV heading towards the victim's home on the night he was believed to have been murdered on Friday, July 26.

His lifeless body was found dead in his bed by his concerned on-off partner when she went to check on him on four days later.

The Northern Echo: John LittlewoodJohn Littlewood

A police officer had described to jurors the 'bloody' mess he discovered when he entered the bedroom of the victim.

The 31-year-old, of Tenth Street, Blackhall Colliery, will be sentenced at a later date.

Earlier in the trial, Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, said Bates was assisted in the commission of the killing by his partner, Tracey Bunney.

The 45-year-old, also of Tenth Street, is still being tried for murder, which she denies.

The trial continues.