A MURDER suspect accused of killing John “Jonty” Hall has been found dead in his prison cell.
Paul Tate appeared at court just four days ago accused of the murder of the 46-year-old, whose body was found by a dog walker in West Rainton on September 15.
Mr Hall, a grandfather and father-of-two, of Burn Terrace, Shiney Row, Sunderland, died as a result of multiple injuries.
Tate, 49, was due back in court on Monday in connection with the killing, but was found in his cell at Holme House Prison in Stockton by prison staff at 5.45am yesterday.
Paramedics attended, but he was pronounced dead at 8.26am.
The circumstances surrounding the death remain unclear. Police and prison authorities have now launched an investigation.
Tate, of Cambridge Road, Silksworth, was jointly charged with Nicholas Rought, 45, of Princess Street, Shiney Row, and Stuart Smith, 42, of no fixed address, with the murder of Mr Hall.
He appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday via videolink to Holme House prison and his case was adjourned.
Smith appeared at the court, via videolink to HMP Durham, yesterday and was visibly upset, wiping away tears during the short hearing.
He was not asked to enter a plea during the hearing and spoke only to confirm his name and that he had been able to hear the proceedings
His barrister Robin Patton said Smith had just been told “some bad news”.
Judge Paul Sloan QC adjourned the case until Monday and no reference was made about Mr Tate.
A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “A 49-year-old man was found dead inside his cell at Holme House prison in Stockton in the early hours of Friday morning.
“Cleveland Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding his death and are awaiting results of a post-mortem examination.”
Rought and Smith are both remanded in custody and are due back in court on Monday.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “HMP Holme House prisoner Paul Tate was found unresponsive in his cell by prison staff.
“As with all deaths in custody, the Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”