Murderer jailed for 26 years after stabbing Billingham man to death loses appeal bid

A thug jailed for life for stabbing a drug user to death has failed in his bid to overturn his conviction for murder.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 7:39 am

Derek Paul Pallas, 38, was jailed for a minimum of 26 years in April 2019 for the murder of 39-year-old Peter Gilling outside Melsonby Court flats in Billingham.

A 13-day trial at Teesside Crown Court heard Pallas stabbed Mr Gilling five times after pulling out a knife during a scuffle between the victim and Darren Willans, a Hartlepool boxer.

The trial heard that Pallas and Mr Willans had gone to the flats to buy drugs to sell on and bumped into Mr Gilling, who Mr Willans had fought with a week earlier, as they were leaving.

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Derek Pallas was jailed for a minimum of 26 years for murder.

Pallas tried to overturn his conviction in the Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

But he was refused leave to appeal.

Full details of the court’s verdict are expected to be published soon.

In sentencing Pallas, of Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, in April 2019, Mr Justice Lavender told him: “Your actions did not just end Peter Gilling's life.

"They deprived a mother of her son, a sister of her brother and a son of his father.”

He added: “After stabbing Peter Gilling, you then sought to blame Darren Willans.

“You lied to the police. You also lied to the jury.”

Mr Willans was cleared of murder and manslaughter.

The judge said the only suggested motive for Pallas’s “terrible crime” was that Darren Willans was annoyed at the way in which Mr Gilling had refused to take his beating and had claimed that he had been getting the better of Mr Willans in the previous fight.

At the time of Pallas’s jailing, Jamie Hill, defending, suggested the location of Mr Gilling’s wounds were more consistent with intent to cause serious harm rather than “an obvious intent to kill”.

The court heard Pallas had taken drugs on the night of the killing and after stabbing Mr Gilling he ran into a Citroen car saying: “We need to go”.

Mr Gilling was said to have endured a life-long battle with drug addiction but was unconditionally loved and his murder had ‘broken’ his family.

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