The devastated family of a vulnerable man beaten to death by his drinking buddy pay tribute to the loving family man.

Norman Ryan’s killer, Kieran Potts, was jailed for 14 years but the family’s sentence will last a lifetime.

The 55-year-old’s family laid bare the pain and devastation they have suffered since he died several days after he was savagely beaten in his Hartlepool flat on August 31, last year.

In a heartbreaking tribute read at Teesside Crown Court they spoke of an Elvis-loving family man who was at the centre of the family unit.

Read next: Face of killer revealed as he is sentenced for Norman Ryan's manslaughter

The family statement read: “My dad Norman was a very much-loved member of a large family and my best friend. As a family, we wish to express the profound impact his death has had on us all. He was an amazing son, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, and best friend. He was a hero to us, a confidant in testing times, a key part of our family and a source of unwavering support.

“Norman was a pillar of strength and guidance in our lives. As a father, he provided our family with unconditional love, and an unbreakable bond. His nurturing presence brought us comfort and solace. His passing has left an unfillable void in our family.

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

“All the memories we wanted to create with him are now only something we can dream of. Our hearts are shattered, we have never felt pain like it and that pain will never be eased. Our lives have truly been turned upside down and will never be the same again.

“We cannot get our heads around losing Norman the way we have. We find ourselves questioning why. The questions are endless and despite listening throughout the trial we still haven’t been given the answers. Norman did not deserve any of this and the actions carried out that day have devastated our lives and we will never feel complete again.  

“We miss his cheeky grin and him singing Elvis songs to us. We know he is up there with God who he prayed to a million times a day. He was such a funny remarkable soul. He lit up the room by being there and always brightened up the mood.

“He was a loving, gentle man and he would do absolutely anything for anyone. He truly had a heart of gold. He was always there for us with no judgment, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and someone to give the best advice. He held our family together.

“Norman’s role as a grandad extended far beyond the traditional definition. He doted on all his grandchildren. He had a unique ability to connect with our children, instilling in them values of kindness, compassion, and perseverance.

“His loving nature and playful spirit created cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Losing him has not only impacted the whole family but has also left a significant void in his grandchildren's lives in which they will no longer be able to continue creating a bond and relationship with their Grandad.

“Our family will forever bear the absence of Norman's comforting presence, knowing that his smile and laughter will be sorely missed. The wisdom he imparted, the lessons he taught, and the memories we shared will continue to shape the fabric of our family for generations to come.

“In light of his passing, we have witnessed the profound effect of loss on our family dynamics. We have come to appreciate the importance of treasuring every moment spent together and valuing the unique bonds we share. We have also united in our commitment to honour his memory by living lives filled with love, kindness, and humility.”

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The Northern Echo: Kieran PottsKieran Potts (Image: CLEVELAND POLICE)

And the officers who helped bring the 24-year-old killer to justice have praised the family’s resilience as the case went to trial in August and Potts was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

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

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Hodgson, said: “Although it will never bring Norman back, I hope that today’s sentence provides his family with some form of comfort. My thoughts remain with them at this extremely difficult time.

“Kieran Potts inflicted injuries upon Norman which were so severe that he never regained consciousness and died in hospital nine days later. He showed little compassion by putting Norman’s family through the pain of a full trial after they had endured this awful tragedy.

“I’d like to thank the family for their patience and dignity throughout the investigation and judicial process and I would like to thank everyone involved in bringing this case to its conclusion.”