By Karon Kelly
A grieving daughter has made a moving tribute to her father on the day his killers – who cruelly convinced her he was still alive – were put behind bars.
Bethany Hall had launched a desperate search for her beloved dad John, known as Jonty, when he disappeared on a Saturday night last September.
The desperate daughter visited the house in Shiney Row where Mr Hall was brutally killed and was told by his murderer Nicholas Rought that her dad must be around somewhere.
All the while, Rought and killer Stuart Smith, who had stayed silent when Rought gave his victim’s desperate daughter the false hope, knew John Hall was lying dead in a ditch.
Mr Hall’s body was found hidden in undergrowth by a dog walker, the day after his brutal death.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday Rought, 45, of Princess Street, Shiney Row,was sentenced to life behind bars and told he must serve a minimum of 19 years before he can even apply for parole.
Smith, 42, of no fixed address, was given a 15 year sentence for manslaughter.
Speaking after the men who killed her dad were given the jail terms, Miss Hall spoke of the irreplaceable loss they have caused her grieving family.
Miss Hall said: “No sentence could ever reflect the pain and heartache we felt as a family.
“What we have lost is irreplaceable and we must live with our loss every day.
“A lot has been written in the media and social media about our father.
“The man that we knew and loved was a family man who loved nature and the outdoors and would go out of his way to help anyone he could.
“Nothing can justify what happened to our dad.
“He will be sadly missed by all those who loved him and whom he loved.”
Rought and Smith had denied involvement in Mr Hall’s brutal death, which happened at a house in Mill Terrace, Shiney Row.
The 46-year-old had such severe injuries that his face was left “flat and without structure”.
The dad-of-two had also had his throat cut, was stabbed with a fork and had multiple wounds inflicted to his body, hands, penis and testicles.
A jury concluded Rought had used a baseball bat to inflict the gruesome injuries, while Smith played a lesser part in the violence.
Judge John Milford QC paid tribute to the family at the conclusion of the case.
The judge said: “I am conscious they have been in the public gallery throughout a protracted trial.
“It must have been an agonising experience for them.
“I am extremely grateful for the quiet and dignified way in which they have conducted themselves throughout.
“I hope, now they have a resolution to the case, it can, to some extent at least, assist the grieving process.”
Rought was convicted of murder after a two week trial while Smith was convicted of manslaughter.
Source: North News & Pictures