A MAN convicted of murdering an eccentric scrap dealer during a bungled burglary failed in an Appeal Court bid to have his conviction overturned.

Jonathan Embleton, 26, was found guilty at Teesside Crown Court in November 2000 of killing 68-year-old Mohammed Sharif. He was later sentenced to life imprisonment.

Yesterday his barrister, David Hatton, said there was a "lurking doubt" over the safety of his conviction.

He said that there was a paucity of evidence linking Embleton, of Trefoil Court, Norton, Stockton, to the crime scene or the murder of Mr Sharif, in the yard of his Middlesbrough home.

Embleton's defence was one of alibi, said Mr Hatton, and the only evidence linking him to the scene was fibres found on his shirt which matched the victim's clothes.

But Lord Justice Tuckey, sitting at London's Appeal Court, said that although the case against Embleton was not watertight, it was a relatively strong one.

The forensic evidence suggested close contact with the victim and the jury had clearly disbelieved Embleton's alibi, the judge said.

He said Embleton had gone to Mr Sharif's home to commit a burglary with Mark Graham and another man - who gave crucial evidence at the trial - confident that the scrap dealer would be out.

It was the Crown's case that Embleton and Graham, who was also convicted of murder, broke into the yard, where they were disturbed.

Mr Sharif was punched, kicked or stamped on, and suffered broken ribs, a fractured eye socket and bruising to his neck.

It was the neck injury that killed him, after blood leaked from the bruising and caused him to asphyxiate. He was found dead in his doorway.