Hartlepool murder suspect 'concocted stories' says co-defendant in stabbing death case

Police at the scene of the stabbing of Peter Gilling at Melsonby Court, Billingham, last September.
Police at the scene of the stabbing of Peter Gilling at Melsonby Court, Billingham, last September.

A Hartlepool man accused of murder ‘concocted stories’ and said he only had a ‘daft fight’ with the alleged victim, a court has heard.

Darren Willans, 31, of Warren Court, Hartlepool, and Derek Pallas, 36, of Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, are on trial at Teesside Crown Court charged with the murder of Peter Gilling.

Peter Gilling.

Peter Gilling.

The 39-year-old was found with serious injuries outside the Melsonby Court flats in Billingham in the early hours of September 29 last year. He was later pronounced dead.

Today the jury heard continued evidence from Derek Pallas on what happened following the alleged murder.

When he was asked by defence barrister Jamie Hill QC what Willans’ reaction was on hearing the news that Mr Gilling was dead, Pallas said Willans couldn’t believe what they had heard and had said he ‘just had a daft fight with him’.

Pallas said they’d heard the week before that Mr Gilling had been stabbed but it turned out to be nothing and Pallas took the news with a ‘pinch of salt’.

But later said: “I felt horrible for leaving him (Mr Gillings).Everyone knows we were close friends.”

He says they helped Willans pack his things from Pallas’ home and they got a taxi with another man - who was at the house - to the home of a woman close to Willans before moving again to another house.

Pallas said Willans was ‘concocting stories’ and had asked him to get the same solicitor as Willans if they were arrested.

He said: "We were in it together. He was concocting stories."

Pallas added: “He wanted us to say that he had been in all night. I told him there were cameras. I think he had gone to (the first woman’s house) as a cover story.”

When he was arrested Pallas was taken to hospital as he had taken diazepam, but said the amount he had taken shouldn’t have had that affect on him as he uses it regularly.

He said that despite what Willans had asked him he requested his own solicitor.

Pallas, who attended court today, with a bruise on his cheek says he has been ‘abused’, ‘threatened’, and bullied while at HMP Durham.

He wouldn’t say how the bruise on his face occurred saying he didn’t want to talk about it. But admitted that it wasn’t Willans that caused the injury to his face.

He says he has often received threats while in jail and that he had been offered thousands of pounds if he was to ‘bail out’ Willans and take the fall.

When asked by Mr Hill if he ever carries a knife Pallas replied: "No, I’ve never been stopped with one, I’ve never been caught with one."

And when asked if he was truthful in what he says when he is under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Pallas said: “I’m a terrible drunk. I’m a bit mouth and a clown.”

The trial continues.