Hartlepool boxer on trial jointly charged with early-morning murder of dad who was stabbed five times

A Hartlepool boxer and a pal went on trial for the stabbing murder of a man in the early hours.

Monday, 18th March 2019, 3:39 pm
Updated Monday, 18th March 2019, 4:13 pm
Peter Gilling.

Darren Willans, 31, told murder squad detectives investigating the killing of Peter Gilling,39, a heroin addict, that he was a professional boxer who had won 60 fights.

Willans, from Hartlepool, who was working as a roofer at the time, is on trial at Teesside Crown Court with Derek Pallas ,36, from Billingham.

Darren Willans, 31, from Hartlepool, who was working as a roofer at the time, is on trial at Teesside Crown Court with Derek Pallas ,36, from Billingham.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Gilling was stabbed five times outside Melsonby Court, Billingham, just after midnight on Saturday, September 29 last year, and a pathologist said that he died from a 3in-deep wound to his femoral artery in his leg.

Prosecutor David Brooke QC said that the Crown”s case was that it was a joint enterprise murder, although they could not say who wielded the knife which was not recovered.

Mr Gilling, who had a 22 year old son, died an hour later in James Cook University Hospital.

The Crown said that he had been in possession of a craft knife found at the scene, but which could not have caused the wound.

Liam Laverick, a witness who drove them to the flats, said that Mr Gilling arrived on a mountain bike as the pair were leaving, and he saw Willans punch him in the face.

Mr Gilling had produced something from his coat which he thought was a knife and waved it in a defensive manner, but he did not realise that he had been stabbed in the scuffle which was “full of arms”.

Mr Brooke said that the incident lasted less than 40 seconds, and Pallas ran to Mr Laverick’s Citroen car saying: “We need to go”, followed by Willans.

He drove them back to Pallas’s house in Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, not realising that Mr Gilling had been stabbed.

In the early hours they went to another address in Sidlaw Road, Billingham, where another witness Carla Rooney, who lived opposite said that he called her over and he appeared as if he was crying. He said that he thought he had killed or stabbed Peter Gilling.

She saw Willans inside the house.

Police arrested Willans at 10.24am.

Willans told officers that on an earlier occasion he had a “little fight” with Mr Gilling, who he knocked unconscious. He put Mr Gilling in the recovery position and got a woman to phone for an ambulance which took him to hospital.

He saw him a few days later and they shook hands.

Willans said later that he did not take drugs.

Mr Brooke said:”He described himself as a professional boxer who had won 60 fights.

”He denied using his boxing on the streets, but he said that he would defend himself if necessary.”

Willans said that he had seen Pallas with knives before. He said he saw the handle of a kitchen knife when Pallas lifted his top “coming on to the big man”, and he hit Mr Gilling on the chin “and dropped him”.

He said that he had a scuffle with Mr Gilling outside after Mr Gilling hit him to the top of the head, adding: “He’s obviously hit back and obviously was not going to be able to stand a chance with me.

He said he has gone and 'then obviously Derek has done what he has done'.

Willans, of Warren Court, Hartlepool, and Pallas both plead not guilty to murder.

The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.