Grieving dad must wait for inquest

Alan Hay.
Alan Hay.

PROSECUTORS have told a family who saw a murder charge dropped against the man accused of killing their loved-one that the matter is now at an end.

Norman Hay’s family met with lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to discuss why David Howard will not stand trial accused of murdering the 38-year-old.

They were told the case is now closed and would have to wait for an inquest to find out more answers to their questions.

Mr Howard, 39, had been charged with murder after Norman died from stab wounds in November, but the charge was dropped two months later with prosecutors saying he had acted in “self defence”.

During the half-hour meeting at Hartlepool Police Station, in Avenue Road, the family were told that there was not sufficient evidence to put a murder case together and a judge would have “thrown it out” of court.

They were also told that Norman had taken a knife to Mr Howard’s home in St Bees Walk, a scuffle had occurred and Norman was stabbed in the face with a knife already in the house and suffered cuts to his hands.

They were also informed that self defence is an “absolute defence” in UK law to murder, meaning that the charge can’t be changed to a lesser offence such as grievous bodily harm.

His dad, retired pipe fitter Alan, 67, of Baptist Street, Hartlepool, said: “I was disgusted by the meeting.

“It was hard to sit there and hear ‘we think this, he said that’ when your son’s dead.

“They said they know the law and that’s what they were following, but this is a life that has gone. It shouldn’t be up to them to decide, surely that’s why we have juries?

“They said that Norman had a knife and there were spots of his blood in the house so he had tried to get in.

“Because of this self defence argument they said it’s done with.”

Alan, a dad-of-six and step-dad of four, who is married to Muriel, 64, added: “All we can do now is wait for the inquest.”

Mr Howard had initially been charged with wounding after Norman suffered stab wounds to his head and eye on Tuesday, November 9.

In dramatic scenes at around 11.15am, police officers closed off St Bees Walk, in the Burbank area of Hartlepool, and the Great North Air Ambulance landed in the nearby field of St Joseph’s RC Primary School.

Norman, who lived with his parents, was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where he died shortly before midnight on the Wednesday.

Mr Howard had his charge changed to murder during a hearing at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court the following day after also being treated for stab wounds.

He appeared in Teesside Crown Court on November 15, but did not enter any pleas. Charges were formally dropped on Thursday, January 13.

Norman’s family were hit by further tragedy on January 5 when his half-brother, Les Willis, died suddenly aged just 42.

An inquest is also set to take place into his death, which police have described as “unexplained”.

The CPS said it could not comment on the meeting with the family.