Blackhall dad John Littlewood was 'murdered in his own bed with a hammer' and not found until four days later, court heard

A man was murdered in his own bed after being viciously attacked with a weapon, a trial has heard.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 5:12 pm
John Littlewood died of head injuries and was found inside the bedroom of a house in Third Street, Blackhall Colliery.

John Littlewood, described by his family as having a ‘heart of gold’ was beaten to death, probably with a hammer in his house in Blackhall Colliery, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Marty Bates, 31, of Tenth Street, Blackhall, is accused of killing Mr Littlewood, known as John D, on July 26 in 2019.

The 36-year-old died as a result of head injuries. The jury was told he was not found until four days later when his on-off partner went round after not hearing from him.

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John Littlewood.

Opening the case for the prosecution, barrister Richard Wright QC said: “She went upstairs to the main bedroom where she discovered the body of John Littlewood lying in bed surrounded by bloodstains.

"John Littlewood had been murdered in his bed at home by an assailant who had used a weapon, most likely a hammer to rain multiple blows down upon his head and face causing devastating injuries."

Bates’ partner Tracey Bunney, 45, is jointly accused of murder. It is alleged she drove Bates to the rear of Mr Littlewood’s home in the early hours of July 26.

The couple’s friend Donna Balfour, 36, is also on trial accused of perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation.

It relates to CCTV from the home she shares with James Riley which the jury heard was switched off at the same time that Bunney is said to have driven Bates to Mr Littlewood’s home just after midnight.

An unsuccessful attempt was also made to delete CCTV footage from the system, said Mr Wright.

The jury heard Mr Littlewood had formed casual friendships with the defendants in the weeks before he died and they were said to be regular visitors to his home.

Bates and Riley have admitted assaulting Mr Littlewood in a separate incident on the evening of July 25 when he was punched and kicked. He suffered a cut to his head which was treated with a plaster.

CCTV was played to the jury which showed Mr Littlewood’s and the defendants’ movements in the days around the murder.

Footage was shown of Bates in the street after he is alleged to have carried out the fatal attack.

Mr Wright said: "He was, we invite you to conclude, making his way home after he had beaten him to death with a weapon in his own bed."

The jury were told that trainers and shorts Bates was seen wearing on July 25 into July 26 were never recovered and Mr Wright suggested this was "no innocent coincidence".

Mr Wright said: "The forensic scientist who examined the scene considered the person who attacked and killed John Littlewood would have probably been heavily contaminated with John Littlewood's blood."

Bates’ thumbprint was found on Mr Littlewood’s back door frame.

Mr Wright added there were no verified sightings of Mr Littlewood after he was last seen going in his house on July 25.

Bates and Bunney, both of Tenth Street, Blackhall, both deny murder.

Balfour, of Ninth Street, denies perverting the course of justice between Friday, July 26, and Friday, August 2, 2019, and witness intimidation on Monday, July 29.

The case continues and is expected to last three weeks.

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