'He said he thought he had killed someone': Jury hears murder suspect told woman he stabbed victim

A woman told a jury a murder suspect confessed to killing a dad who was stabbed five times.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 1:25 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 1:38 pm
Peter Gilling.
Peter Gilling.

Carla Rooney said Derek Pallas told her he had stabbed Peter Gilling.

Ms Rooney said she didn't believe Pallas until she heard of Mr Gilling's death a few hours later.

Police investigating at the scene of Peter Gilling's death at Melsonby Court, Billingham.

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Pallas is jointly accused with Hartlepool man Darren Willans of murdering Mr Gilling, 39, in the early hours of September 29.

Ms Rooney told Teesside Crown Court she was in the front garden of her mother's house in Sidlaw Road, Billingham, at between 2am and 3am, a few hours after Mr Gilling's death.

"I was having a tab outside," said Ms Rooney. "Derek Pallas, who I know, was in the garden of the house opposite.

"He shouted me over, so I went over.

Police cordoned off the scene of the attack on Peter Gilling at Melsonby Court, Billingham.

"He was upset, he said he thought he had killed someone.

"He told me not to tell anyone, but he had stabbed Peter Gilling.

"I didn't believe him at that time, I thought he was lying to try to get something out of me, money or whatever.

"He was crying, but there weren't any tears.

"He had asked about sleepers (sleeping tablets)."

Under cross-examination from Jamie Hill QC, for Pallas, Ms Rooney agreed that Pallas was a 'bit of a character' who talked '19 to the dozen'.

Mr Hill said Pallas had said he felt guilty about Mr Gilling dying, not that he was guilty of killing him.

Ms Rooney insisted she had understood Pallas correctly, and he had said he had killed Mr Gilling.

Mr Hill suggested to Ms Rooney she had been put up to giving a statement by Willans or members of his family.

"He is a hard man," said Mr Hill. "If he wanted you to do something, and you didn't do it your life wouldn't be worth living."

Ms Rooney said she was aware of Willans, but did not know him well.

"He's not that hard," she said. "It's not as if he's a gangster or owt."

Prosecutors allege Willans and Pallas stabbed Mr Gilling, following a chance meeting outside Melsonby Court flats in Billingham.

The three men had fought a few days before after Willlans accused Mr Gilling of a burglary in which a quad bike was stolen.

Ms Rooney said she had seen Mr Gilling a few days before his death outside the Astronaut pub in Billingham.

"He had injuries to his face," added Ms Rooney.

"He told me he'd been in a fight with Darren Willans and Derek Pallas."

Willans, 31, of Warren Court, Hartlepool, and Pallas, 36, of Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, both deny murder on September 29.

Both men admit being with Mr Gilling shortly before he was fatally injured, but they both deny stabbing him.

Proceeding.