Norma Bell killer Gareth Dack appealing against sentence for her brutal murder

Gareth Dack
Gareth Dack

A drug dealer who murdered a pensioner in her own home before setting it on fire has lodged an appeal against the length of his 33-year jail sentence.

Gareth Dack, 33, was handed the life sentence at Teesside Crown Court last month after he was convicted of strangling 79-year-old Norma Bell at her home in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, last April.

Norma Bell

Norma Bell

Afterwards he used Mrs Bell’s landline to call TV sex chat lines and tried to cause a gas explosion to destroy the evidence.

The small-time cocaine dealer showed no remorse for what he did to Mrs Bell who was a widow and much-loved mother-of-nine, and grandmother, who had fostered more than 50 children.

When he was sentenced the trial judge, Mrs Justice Whipple, told Dack: “This must have been a truly terrifying ordeal for Norma Bell.

“Norma Bell was elderly and alone in her home, you would have overpowered her with ease and you brutally murdered her, it was a savage act.

“We cannot know precisely when you did it, but you killed her by strangulation, first with hand pressure then with a mobile phone cord.

“You knelt on her and used extreme violence against her, it was a terrible crime.”

She added: “After arrest you refused to co-operate with the police, and your continued silence means Mrs Bell’s family do not know how she spent her last hours.

“You will not acknowledge your act, or show any remorse, or tell them what happened.”

The father of four also ransacked Mrs Bell’s home stealing hundreds of pounds in cash and a flat screen TV that he sold to a friend that same night.

The Court of Appeal confirmed it received notification of Dack’s appeal bid last Friday.

No date for a hearing has been fixed yet and it can take up to three months before a judge will consider if the appeal can proceed to the next stage.

If it is refused Dack could appeal the decision.

If it is granted it could be up to 10 months before there is a full hearing before three of the country’s most senior judges.

Dack, formerly of Windermere Road, Hartlepool, is not appealing against the guilty verdicts of the offences of murder and arson.