Hartlepool murder accused had porn stashed on phones

Gareth Dack
Gareth Dack

A stash of pornography was found on mobile phones used by the man accused of murdering foster mother Norma Bell.

Gareth Dack is alleged to have used Mrs Bell’s telephone to contact sex chat lines three hours before her body was found by firefighters tackling a blaze at her home in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool.

Norma Bell

Norma Bell

Dack’s trial at Teesside Crown Court heard police seized two mobile phones and a memory card from his home in Windermere Road, Hartlepool.

Detective Constable Rob Griffiths said police found 107 hard core videos, 121 hard core photographs, and 433 soft core images.

He said: “The images on the phones were in the cache. This suggests they had been viewed.

“The majority of the images were downloaded between January and Mr Dack’s arrest in April.”

Mrs Bell’s body was discovered at about 8.20am on Sunday, April 3.

The court heard police first made contact with Dack on Monday, April 4.

Christopher Tehrani QC, prosecuting, said: “At that stage he was not a suspect. He was a person of interest in the inquiry because officers had heard he had borrowed £10 from Mrs Bell a week before her death.

“Detective Constable Paul Ryder contacted Dack by phone. Dack was away with two friends visiting a prisoner in Liverpool’s Altcourse jail.

“Dack replied he had heard about the murder because one of Mrs Bell’s foster children was his best mate. He said he didn’t know what to say to his friend about it.

“Dack told the officer he was willing to speak to police on his return from Liverpool.”

The court heard that, the next few hours, Dack made several internet searches for articles in the Hartlepool Mail and opened articles on the death of Norma Bell.

He made further searches for ‘Gareth Dack, Hartlepool’, the jury was told.

Police arrested Dack in the early hours of Tuesday, April 5.

Dack, 33, denies the murder of Mrs Bell, 79, and arson being reckless at to whether life was endangered between Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3, last year.

The trial continues.