Marty Bates, 31, carried out the ‘vicious and callous’ murder before carrying on like nothing happened in the days afterwards (Picture: NCJ Media / North News and Pictures)A killer has been jailed for life after bludgeoning his friend to death with a hammer while he lay asleep in bed.
Marty Bates, 31, carried out the ‘vicious and callous’ murder before carrying on like nothing happened in the days after John Littlewood’s death.
He was jailed at Teesside Crown Court for life with a minimum of 24 years.
Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Paul Watson QC, said: ‘Whatever he did to upset you didn’t warrant the level of violence [you] inflicted on him in a brutal, ferocious and sustained attack.
‘The frenzied nature of the attack on somebody who thought he was your friend can only be described as drink or drug fuelled.’
Bates, of Tenth Street in Blackhall Colliery, went back to the victim’s house after they’d had an earlier argument.
After sneaking in through an open rear door, also in Blackhall Colliery near Hartlepool, he climbed the stairs and launched the horrific attack on Mr Littlewood, 36, as he slept in the early hours of July 26, 2019.
Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, said Bates had carried out ‘gratuitous’ violence when he attacked his victim in his bed when he was not in a position to defend himself.
John Littlewood, 36, was killed while asleep in his own bed (Picture: North News and Pictures)Mr Littlewood’s on-off partner, Julie Muir, had become worried after not hearing from him for a few days.
Mr Wright said she went to his home on July 30, adding: ‘She found the back door unlocked but closed and she went inside the property.
‘She went upstairs to the main bedroom where she discovered the body of John Littlewood, lying in bed surrounded by blood stains. He was dead and had been for some time.
‘The prosecution alleges that Mr Littlewood had been murdered in his bed by an assailant who had used a weapon, most likely a hammer, to rain down multiple blows on his head and face, causing devastating injuries to his brain.
‘No weapon was found at the scene and it’s a sensible conclusion that the killer had removed it.’
Bates was jailed for life at Teesside Crown Court (Picture: North News and Pictures)
Police at the scene after Mr Littlewood’s body was found (Picture: NCJ Media)The court was told Bates and his partner, Tracey Bunney, had spent the day drinking with Mr Littlewood – known as John D – before they argued.
But later CCTV footage showed Bates bare-chested, walking back towards his home from the direction of Third Street, after carrying out the vicious attack in the middle of the night.
Other footage showed the friends visiting shops before their day of drinking exploded into violence.
His partner, Tracey Bunney, was cleared of murder following her trial at Teesside Crown Court.
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But two other defendants were found guilty of crimes relating to the murder.
Donna Balfour, 36 and of Ninth Street in Blackhall, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by interfering with a CCTV system at her home to attempt to delete footage.
Her partner, James Riley, 31 and also of Ninth Street, previously pleaded guilty to intending to pervert the course of justice, witness intimidation, and a further count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to a separate incident.
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