Two cowardly young thugs have been jailed for life for the “vicious and unprovoked” killing of a grandfather as he lay in his bed.

The murderous attack on Ross Connelly was supposedly in ‘revenge’ for a social media comment posted by the victim that upset Lewis Armstrong and accomplice Harvey Hughes.

Armstrong and Hughes forced their way into Mr Connelly’s home in Wheatley Hill, County Durham, shortly after midnight on May 1 this year and repeatedly assaulted him with an unknown weapon.

The pair carried out the vicious reprisal attack after the 46-year-old grandfather had apparently insulted Armstrong’s mother on Facebook.

The Northern Echo: Killers, Lewis Armstrong, left, and Harvey Hughes, right, given life sentences at Newcastle Crown

Their victim suffered multiple injuries and was declared dead at the scene, at his home in Alexandra Terrace.

The cowardly pair then fled and attempted to evade police but were eventually tracked down and arrested.

Armstrong, who was 17 at the time of the attack but has since turned 18, and 20-year-old Hughes, were jointly charged with murder.

They were also charged with attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to an unconnected, unprovoked attack carried out the previous day on an innocent man living in a hostel in Shotton Colliery.

The pair denied all charges but were found guilty following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court last month.

They appeared back at the court today (Friday November 17) for sentencing.

Hughes, of Girton Close, Peterlee, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years, while Armstrong, of Dixon Estate, Shotton Colliery, was also jailed for life, but with a minimum term of 24 years.

In a statement, Mr Connelly’s heartbroken family said: “We are thankful for today’s result. There will always be a massive hole in our lives.

“Ross was a good man with a huge heart and lots of love to give to both friends and family.

“Ross was a proud Shotton Colliery lad, a proud Sunderland supporter and a proud granddad. He is greatly missed.”

A Durham Constabulary spokeswoman said: “This was a vicious and unprovoked attack on a defenceless man as he laid in his own bed at home.

“Armstrong and Hughes are cold, calculated killers who used disturbing levels of violence to inflict terrible injuries which sadly cost Ross his life.

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“They showed no remorse for their actions and even attempted to evade arrest.

“They are a real danger to the public, so I am pleased that the jury has found them guilty of murder and that they will now remain behind bars for a significant length of time, where they can cause no further harm to our communities.

“I hope today’s result will go a small way to offer some conclusion to the horrible suffering of Ross’ family, who have supported the police investigation throughout.”