Hartlepool man found not guilty of murder of dad who was stabbed five times in the street

Peter Gilling.
Peter Gilling.

A Hartlepool boxer has been cleared of murdering a drug user who was found stabbed to death.

Darren Willans, 31, of Warren Court, Hartlepool, stood trial at Teesside Crown Court with Derek Pallas, for the murder of heroin user Peter Gilling, 39.

Derek Pallas

Derek Pallas

Mr Gilling was found with serious injuries outside Melsonby Court flats in Billingham in the early hours of September 29 last year.

He had been stabbed five times and died from a 3in-deep wound to an artery in his left leg.

This afternoon, Willans, an amateur boxer, who was working as a roofer at the time, was unanimously found not guilty of murder or the manslaughter of Mr Gilling.

Pallas, 36, of Marsh House Avenue, was found guilty of the murder and will be sentenced later today.

Police at the scene.

Police at the scene.

The trial heard Willans and Pallas, 36, had gone to Melsonby Court twice that night to buy drugs to sell on.

Both men admitted being with Mr Gilling after bumping into him when they were leaving the flats, but both denied stabbing him.

Prosecutors said that it was a joint enterprise murder, although they could not say who wielded the knife which was not recovered.

Mr Gilling, who had a 22-year-old son, died an hour later in James Cook University Hospital.

Peter Gilling.

Peter Gilling.

The trial heard Willans knocked Mr Gilling unconscious a week before he died because he blamed him for burgling his sister's shed.

On the night Mr Gilling died, Willans admitted punching him twice to the face after saying Mr Gilling came at him with his hands raised and that Mr Gilling produced a Stanley knife.

Willans said he jogged over to a car that was giving him and Pallas a lift and said he 'did not have a clue' that Mr Gilling had been stabbed.

The incident is said to have lasted less than 40 seconds.

During his evidence Willans denied ever carrying knives saying: "I hate them" and his defence team alleged Pallas was the stabber.