By Karon Kelly
Two men have been convicted over the vicious killing of John “Jonty” Hall.
Mr Hall was brutally beaten to death in a house last September, where he thought he was surrounded by friends.
His battered body was then dumped in a ditch, where it lay while his frantic family desperately searched for him.
The 46-year-old had sustained such severe injuries that his face was left “flat and without structure”.
The dad of two also had his throat cut, was stabbed with a fork and had multiple wounds inflicted to his body, hands, penis and testicles.
Nicholas Rought, 45, of Princess Street, Shiney Row, denied he played any part in the killing.
He was convicted of murder after five hours deliberation by a jury.
Stuart Smith, 42, of no fixed address, who blamed Rought for Mr Hall’s death, also denied murder during a two week trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
Jurors found him guilty of manslaughter.
He was cleared of the murder charge.
Both men, who have already admitted perverting the course of justice in relation to trying to dispose of the body, will be sentenced tomorrow (April 2).
Judge John Milford QC said: “A life sentence has to be passed for murder.”
The judge said he will consider the minimum tariff Rought must serve, along with Smith’s sentence at tomorrow’s hearing, where statements about the impact of Mr Hall’s death on his family will be read.
Judge Milford praised Mr Hall’s family for their dignified conduct throughout the trial.
Mystery still surrounds exactly what happened in the dining room where the 46-year-old dad met his savage death.
Jurors were told various versions of events by witnesses who were there during the horrific murder.
The house at Mill Terrace, Shiney Row, where the killing happened was where Betsy Moan and her partner Paul Tate lived.
Mrs Moan was sitting in her chair in the living room, just meters away from where the killing took place.
Her partner Paul Tate, 49, had been charged with Mr Hall’s murder but cut his own throat in prison before the case got to trial.
Mrs Moan denied Mr Tate had been involved in the murder and said she heard Mr Hall saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” while he was with Rought and Smith in her dining room.
Colin Brown, who was also in the house where they all were drinking, said Rought and Smith had taken turns to attack Mr Hall.
Rought claimed he was out of the room while the killing took place, which happened at the hands of Tate, who had “lost the plot”.
Smith said during the trial it was Rought who carried out the killing alone, and had shouted “God has had his justice” as he did it.
When Rought was questioned by detectives he admitted killing Mr Hall, saying: “I hit him loads. I released all my demons. I did feel better.”
He later claimed he had been “delusional” when he made the confession.
The body of Mr Hall was discovered dumped under foliage in Marks Lane, West Rainton, on Sunday, September 15, last year by a dog walker and his son.
The dad, of Burn Terrace in Herrington Burn, had a catalogue of gruesome injuries.
John Elvidge, prosecuting, said during the trial: “He suffered extensive facial fractures. His face was flat and without structure. He suffered injuries to his brain and fractures to his neck.”
After the deadly assault, Mr Hall’s body was moved to a nearby disused builder’s yard before later being carried into Rought’s Rover car and driven to West Rainton to be dumped.
The court heard how carpet was then removed from the scene of the killing, and a fresh coat of paint was put on the blood-spattered walls.
Rought’s car was later found burned out in Foxcover Lane in Sunderland.
Source: North News & Pictures