THE family of Andrew Lucas face more weeks of waiting to find out if his murderer has killed before.
Andrew’s grieving relatives and supporters packed the public gallery of Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, where Mark Spalding was due to be sentenced over the stabbing of the 20-year-old.
But the hearing was adjourned so Judge John Milford can hear evidence over whether the Washington 45-year-old has a previous conviction for manslaughter.
Prosecutors claim that in 1987, Spalding killed a security guard in Dubai who had refused him entry to a housing compound.
It is said he killed the watchman and then ran his body over to make it look like an accident.
Prosecutor Nicholas Lumley provided the court with press cuttings from the court case in the Middle East, detailing the circumstances of the killing.
Mr Lumley said: “The Crown say the date of birth and passport number of the person convicted in Dubai are identical to the defendant’s date of birth and number of his passport.
“The Crown say with confidence it is he who was convicted in Dubai.”
Mr Lumley said British prosecutors are awaiting official confirmation from embassy officials to prove what the conviction was.
Lee Fish, defending, told thecourt Spalding denies any involvement or that he was even accused of the Dubai killing.
Mr Fish said: “I should make his position very clear about what occurred in Dubai.
“He vehemently contests the assertion he was convicted of the offence of manslaughter.
“He denies he was even ever tried for an offence involving the unlawful killing of another human being.”
Mr Fish said Spalding, of Kestrel Close, Ayton, accepts he was jailed in Dubai for 10 years, which was later reduced to seven, but claims it was for an offence of burglary.
Judge Milford adjourned the case until next month.
He said: “There is a family, whose victim impact statement I have read and re-read, who sat throughout an exceedingly painful trial, and they are entitled to have this matter closed in so far as it can be closed for the loss of their son.”
The judge said he needs the issues determined so he can pass the appropriate minimum term that Spalding, who will receive a life sentence, must serve.
Spalding stabbed Andrew to death last November after a row over a mobile phone.
He had denied murder but was convicted by a jury.