John Littlewood's killer sentenced to a minimum of 24 years after murdering Blackhall dad in his bed

A man who claimed he was a friend of John Littlewood has been sentenced to a minimum of 24 years for his brutal killing.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 12:05 pm

Marty Lee Bates, of Tenth Street in Blackhall Colliery, stood trial for the murder of John Littlewood, only to change his plea to guilty days after standing in the witness box to deny the charge.

Today, Thursday, May 13, at Teesside Crown Court, Judge Paul Watson QC told him it is possible he will never be released from prison after imposing a minimum term before he can be considered for release and will then remain on licence for the rest of his life.

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Marty Lee Bates, 31, of Tenth Street, Blackhall Colliery, admitted the murder of his friend John Littlewood.

The judge told him his actions had been “truly awful” calling the attack “persistent and determined.”

Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, told the court it could be sure Marty Bates went to Mr Littlewood’s home, in the early hours of July 26, 2019, having ensured CCTV was disabled to avoid him being recorded, and attacked Mr Littlewood as he slept his bed using a hammer or a similar weapon.

He said evidence showed a hand had been put up after the first blow before he was left “unconscious and defenceless.”

He added the level of violence had been gratuitous, and that the aggravating factors included that it involved planning, entering Mr Littlewood’s home and that he had made efforts to evade responsibility.

John Littlewood, 36, was found dead at his home in Third Street, Blackhall Colliery, in July 2019.

Statements from 36-year-old’s parents Pamela Hall and John Littlewood Snr were read, both speaking of how their two grandsons would miss growing up with their father, with their families devastated by their loss.

The sentence took into account Bates’ offending history, which includes aggravated burglary, which led to a prison term, possession of a knife in the same year of the killing, battery and a series of motoring offences, including taking without concern and failing to provide a specimen.

John Elvidge, mitigating, said Bates said the 31-year-old realised the suffering he had caused Mr Littlewood’s family and offered his apologies.

"By his plea, he accepts his wrong doing and is ashamed,” he said.

Bates was also given a 12 month term to run concurrently for an assault occasioning actual bodily harm on Mr Littlewood the evening before the murder.

Bates’ partner, Tracey Bunney, 45, of the same address, was cleared of murder following the trial.

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