Town man is accused of murder

John Newton
John Newton

A HARTLEPOOL man has appeared in court charged with the murder of a man who died two days after being kidnapped and savagely beaten.

Five men have already been on trial over the murder of John Newton, with three men found guilty and given life sentences with a minimum jail term of 20 years.

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man David Peter Woodier, 48, was hauled before Teesside Magistrates’ Court yesterday after being arrested and charged by Cleveland Police’s Murder Investigation Team.

The dramatic development came only a week after three others were convicted of murdering and kidnapping Mr Newton.

Mr Newton had been taken from his home and beaten so badly that he died two days after the attack on March 21, the day before his son was born.

Woodier, dressed in a checked shirt and wearing glasses, did not enter a plea and was remanded in custody to appear before Teesside Crown Court on Tuesday.

He spoke only to confidently confirm his name, age and address of Norton House, Thetford Road, Hartlepool.

Tahira Bouchier, prosecuting, said: “His arrest is part of the ongoing investigation by Cleveland Police.”

District Judge Kristina Harrison told Woodier: “Because of the nature of your charge, you are not allowed to make an application for bail before this court.

“If your solicitor does want to make an application, it must be before a judge at the crown court”.

Woodier’s nephew, Lee Woodier, 25, was convicted of kidnapping Mr Newton but a jury was unable to reach a verdict on whether he had murdered the 45-year-old.

He faces a retrial on the murder charge next year.

George Thomas Jnr, his son Stephen Thomas and Andrew Jackson were each given life sentences with a minimum jail term of 20 years at Teesside Crown Court by the Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Peter Fox.

Grandfather George Thomas Snr walked free after being cleared of any involvement in the killing or kidnap of Mr Newton.

Throughout the trial, which lasted more than four weeks, the court heard how Mr Newton, who was said to be a vulnerable man who suffered from epilepsy and alcoholism, was taken from his home in Brimham Court, in Redcar, on March 19.

The beating he received on derelict land near Nunthorpe, on the outskirts of Middlesbrough, was so severe he died two days later in James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough.

Mr Newton’s partner, Michelle Lawson, 42, went into labour the day after he died.

John James Lawson-Newton was born in the same hospital that his dad had fought for life just hours before.

The trial heard that 10 days before the attack, George Thomas Snr told his family his life savings had gone missing along with the safe from his home in Redcar.

He believed Mr Newton, 45, a long-term friend, and another man were to blame.

No evidence ever emerged to suggest Mr Newton was responsible for the burglary at the pensioner’s home.

George Thomas Snr, 77, of Wykeham Close, Redcar; George Thomas Jnr, 52, of Charlbury Road, Middlesbrough; Stephen Thomas, 30, of Penhill Close, Middlesbrough; Lee Woodier, 25, of Shelley Road, Saltersgill; and Andrew Jackson, 25, of Cornforth Avenue, Middlesbrough, all denied kidnap and murder.