A man has been jailed for 14 years for the brutal killing of a vulnerable man severely beaten in his own home.

Kieran Potts punched, kicked, and stamped on Norman Ryan minutes after he had become embroiled in a scuffle with his own father.

The 24-year-old was told that his violent attack was 'severe and pitiless' when he appeared before Teesside Crown Court this morning (Friday, October 6).

Judge Paul Watson KC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told the defendant that he was certain that some of the fatal blows were delivered while the 55-year-old was laid on the floor of his Hartlepool flat.

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He said: "This was a severe and pitiless attack on Mr Ryan.

"Though shortlived, it involved multiple stamps and kicks to his head with sufficient force to cause violent twisting which led to that fatal brain injury.

"For at least part of it he was laying defenceless on the floor. He was vulnerable by reason of his age and health but also by his level of intoxication at the time of the attack.

"He was unable to protect himself from the attack from you, a younger, larger, and fitter man."

The Northern Echo: Norman RyanNorman Ryan (Image: Cleveland Police)

He added: "This was not a case of you acting in self-defence, it was a gratuitous attack on a defenceless man.

"Your intention was to cause injury, following just short of very serious harm, and the risk of harm was very high which would have been obvious to you."

Sharon Beattie KC, prosecuting, read out a statement on behalf of Mr Ryan's son, David.

He described his father as a pillar of strength who provided his family with love and his passing has left an unfillable void in our family.

"Our lives have truly been turned upside down amd will never be the same again," he said.

Jurors had heard how a seriously injured Mr Ryan was discovered by the defendant’s father, Carl, after he kicked down the door of his neighbour’s flat after spotting him lying injured on the floor.

The 55-year-old died in hospital several days after the attack on August 31, last year.

Ms Beattie said the injuries were consistent with Mr Ryan being punched, kicked, and stamped on.

She added that there was blood found on Potts' trainers and the blood spatter showed some of the blows were delivered while the victim was on the floor.

The Northern Echo: Kieran PottsKieran Potts (Image: Cleveland Police)

The court heard how Potts had tried to destroy evidence by washing his clothes but traces of Mr Ryan's blood and skin were recovered from a pair of his trainers.

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John Elvidge KC, representing Potts, said it was clear that all parties had been drinking and accepted that it would be an aggravating feature for his client.

He told the judge that this is a first offence for Potts and it will be his first custodial sentence but accepts the personal mitigation is slight.

"This was not a premeditated event, it seems to have arised from the circumstances that particular afternoon," he said.

Potts, of Moffatt Road, Hartlepool, was found guilty of manslaughter following a trial in August. He was cleared of murder.