THE jury in the John Littlewood murder trial has retired to consider its verdict.

Tracey Bunney is accused of helping her partner Marty Bates to kill their friend following a drunken argument in July 2019.

In a dramatic twist, Bates changed his plea to guilty after jurors had listened to several weeks of evidence.

Bunney drove her partner near to Mr Littlewood's home and dropped him off, just minutes before he was battered to death with a hammer.

Teesside Crown Court had heard how Bates let himself into the Mr Littlewood's Blackhall Colliery home in the early hours of July 26, 2019, before launching the fatal and sustained attack on his prone victim.

His body was discovered four days later by his on/off girlfriend Julie Muir after she became concerned she hadn't heard from him for several days.

Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, said Bates was assisted in the commission of the killing by his partner and co-accused, Bunney.

CCTV footage was shown to the jury in which Mr Wright said a bare-chested Bates can be seen walking back towards his home from the direction of Third Street in the early hours of Friday, July 26.

The court heard how Bates and Bunney had spent the day drinking with their friend, known as John D, before trouble erupted in the victim's home and he was violently attacked.

Judge Paul Watson QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, sent the jury out at 2.25pm today.