Hartlepool murder accused 'had fight with alleged victim the week before killing', court told

A Hartlepool man accused of murder had a fight with the alleged victim a week before he was killed, a court has heard.

Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 5:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th March 2019, 5:53 pm
Peter Gilling

Darren Willans, 31, of Warren Court, Hartlepool, and Derek Pallas, 36, of Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, are on trial at Teesside Crown Court charged with the murder of Peter Gilling.

The 39-year-old was found with serious injuries outside the Melsonby Court flats in Billingham in the early hours of September 29, last year. He was later pronounced dead.

Teesside Crown Court

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The jury today heard evidence from Pallas today, who was asked by his defence barrister, Jamie Hill QC, to describe what happened on the night Mr Gilling died.

Pallas told the court how he had gone to Melsonby Court three times that night to buy drugs.

He said Willans accompanied him on his final visit that night.

Pallas said Willans and Mr Gilling had previously had a previous fight on September 21, in which Willans punched Mr Gilling.

He said despite Mr Gilling being injured in the fight, the pair shook hands a few days later.

He told the court that on the night of the alleged killing, he and Willans arrived at Melsonby Court to buy drugs.

Pallas said Willans had a kitchen knife which he took off him and put under a cushion on the settee in the flat, and he "didn't touch it again that night."

He said Willans made him aware people in the flat said it was actually Mr Gilling who had "knacked" Willans, rather than the other way round.

Pallas said that "for a joke" he agreed, saying that Willans "was fuming" over the fact that people thought that.

He said on leaving the flat, they bumped into Mr Gilling outside.

Pallas said: "Darren said 'what have you been saying to them about me?' Peter said 'nowt'."

The court then heard Pallas describe how "all of a sudden a punch was thrown" by Willans to Mr Gilling's head.

He said: "Peter stumbled back and as he turned he pulled something out of his pocket which was knife."

Pallas said he initially stepped between Willans and Mr Gilling but on seeing the knife shouted "he's got a knife".

He said the pair were scuffling as he ran to the car.

Pallas said Willans was "pretty much straight behind him" as he went to the car .

In the car he said Willans went to pass him a knife, but said he was unsure if it was the same knife from the flat.

Pallas said he and Willans were driven to Marsh House Avenue by a friend and all three went in.

He said Willans later got a call from a customer who told him Mr Gilling was dead.

He said Willans "went white" when he learned of the news.

Pallas said: "I didn't know what was going on. I just thought Darren has given him a few bats and that was it."

The trial continues.