Man jailed for 26 years for murder of dad in street: Court told it is thug's second killing

A thug who knifed a drug user to death after a chance meeting will serve at least 26 years behind bars for murder.

Thursday, 4th April 2019, 4:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 4:09 pm
Derek Pallas
Derek Pallas

Derek Pallas, 36, stabbed Peter Gilling, 39, five times all over his body after attacking him outside a block of flats in Billingham last September.

He was found guilty of murder following a 13-day trial at Teesside Crown Court on Thursday.

The court heard it is the second life that Pallas has taken, in 2004, he killed someone by dangerous driving. And in 2008 he was involved in another serious stabbing of a man.

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Darren Willans, a boxer from Hartlepool, was also charged with murder but was cleared by the jury of both murder and manslaughter.

A scuffle broke out between Gilling and Mr Willans in the early hours of September 29 last year following an earlier fight between Mr Willans and Mr Gilling a week prior.

During the altercation at Melsonby Court on September 29, Pallas, who had taken drugs, produced a knife and stabbed Mr Gilling.

Afterwards, he ran into a Citroen car saying: “We need to go”.

Mr Gilling's sister Melanie Pledger said her brother had endured a life-long battle with drug addiction but he was unconditionally loved and his murder has broken their family.

Sentencing Pallas, of Marsh House Avenue, Billingham, Mr Justice Lavender said: “Your actions did not just end Peter Gilling's life. They deprived a mother of her son, a sister of her brother and a son of his father.”

The judge added: “The only motive which had been suggested for your terrible crime is that your friend, Darren Willans, was annoyed at the way in which Mr Gilling had refused to take his beating and had instead claimed that he had in the earlier fight been getting the better of Darren Willans, until you pulled a knife on him, and was threatening to come after Darren Willans with a knife.

“After stabbing Peter Gilling, you then sought to blame Darren Willans.

“You lied to the police. You also lied to the jury.

“I impose on you a life sentence of imprisonment.”

The trial heard that Pallas and Mr Willans had gone to the flats to buy drugs to sell on.

They bumped into Mr Gilling as they were leaving.

During the confrontation Mr Willans punched Mr Gilling twice, once after Mr Gilling produced a Stanley knife.

After the attack, Mr Gilling was seen on CCTV collapsing with his trousers soaked with blood.

Paramedics arrived within 15 minutes but they could not save him.

Jamie Hill, QC, defending Pallas, said in mitigation the attack was not planned.

He added: “Awful as the injuries were in this case, the wound sites are perhaps more consistent with intent to cause serious harm rather than an obvious intent to kill.”