Norma Bell's murderer to learn how long he will spend behind bars

Gareth Dack has been found guilty of murdering Norma Bell.
Gareth Dack has been found guilty of murdering Norma Bell.

The murderer of Norma Bell will today find out how long he will serve behind bars.

Gareth Dack was found guilty yesterday of murdering Mrs Bell, 79, and setting fire to her home in Westbourne Avenue in Hartlepool to hide the evidence.

Norma Bell.

Norma Bell.

Dack, 33, faces a mandatory life sentence, and trial judge Mrs Justice Whipple is obliged to set a minimum term which Dack must serve before he can be considered for parole

That term is likely to be between 25 and 30 years.

During his trial at Teesside Crown Court, Dack was confronted with a wealth of DNA, telephone, and other evidence.

But as each point was put to him by prosecutor Christopher Tehrani, QC, Dack had his answer ready.

Gareth Dack set fire to Norma Bell's home after murdering her.

Gareth Dack set fire to Norma Bell's home after murdering her.

He explained his footprints on Mrs Bell's wheelie bin by saying she had asked him to move a piece of barbed wire which was obstructing the back gate of her house.

He explained his DNA found upstairs in her house by saying Mrs Bell had asked him to carry a tin of paint up to an attic room.

He explained his DNA found on her laundry by saying he had to move it to get to the paint.

He explained secondary DNA on her body by saying she had grasped his hand as he repaid her £10 he had borrowed.

He explained DNA found on the cable used to strangle Mrs Bell by saying she had offered him some old mobile phone chargers, and he had touched the cables while checking if any would fit his phone.

And so the list went on, a television taken from Mrs Bell's house and linked to Dack by his fingerprints had been sold to him by a stranger who just happened to be carrying it past Dack's parents' house in the early hours, just as he happened to be dealing drugs from the garage of the property.

Money was taken from Mrs Bell's house and £430 in cash was found in Dack's car, despite evidence of him being in debt.

He explained the cash by saying he had acquired some cocaine on credit and 'doubled his money' overnight by selling it on the street.

No evidence of recent drug dealing was found on Dack's phone.

He explained that by saying he had used his 'basher phone', an untraceable phone he had used for drug dealing for some years, but had decided to dispose of it down a drain on the morning Mrs Bell's body was found.

"You have lied, lied, and lied again to this jury," Mr Tehrani told Dack. "You have waited for the prosecution to disclose their case, then simply tailored your answers to account for that evidence."

The jury's unanimous guilty verdicts indicate they agreed, leaving Dack to contemplate spending much of the rest of his life in prison.