THE heartbroken parents of a man bludgeoned to death in his own home have spoken of their devastating loss.

John Littlewood, known as John D, was murdered by his 'friend' Marty Bates following a drunken argument in July 2019.

His bloodied and battered body was discovered in the bedroom of is home in Blackhall Colliery by his on/off girlfriend a few days later.

The father-of-two had been savagely acttacked with a hammer while he was asleep in bed, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The Northern Echo: John LittlewoodJohn Littlewood

Today, his murderer was sentenced to a minimum of 24-years in prison but the devastating imapct of his killing will live on with his family.

John D’s devastated mother, Pamela Hall, said: “The death of my son John D has destroyed our family, leaving us heartbroken knowing our lives will never be the same again.

“John D was a loving son and is greatly missed by all that have known him, including myself, my partner Paul, and John D’s sons.

“The fact my son was murdered was bad enough. This person could have taken responsibility from the day he was arrested, which would have prevented us having to listen to the final moments of John D’s life at the trial.

“This has been unbearable at times and no words can explain the pain and torture that I have gone through. There are no words to describe the pain, which we all feel, but we hope that the justice served will hopefully give us some comfort knowing the person responsible for the murder of my son can’t harm anyone else.”

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.

The Northern Echo: Marty BatesMarty Bates

Other footage showed the friends visiting shops before their day of drinking exploded into violence.

In a shock twist, Bates, of Tenth Street, Blackhall Colliery, changed his plea to guilty just before the trial reached its climax.

Mr Littlewood's father, also called John, said: "After 22 long and painful months my family and I can now lay my son to rest knowing that the person responsible for his murder has admitted his guilt.

“We can now try to move forward, sadly without John D in our lives, but always in our hearts.

“We would like to thank the police and all those who have provided support to our family throughout this difficult time.”