Cops quiz Scott Pritchard's killer Karen Tunmore in prison in search for accomplice
Fifteen years ago the family of tragic Scott Pritchard had their world torn apart when he was brutally murdered just yards from his home.
Just days ago detectives quizzed his killer in prison in the hope she would reveal the accomplice she called “Ste” who she claimed drove her to the scene of her killing.
But the bid proved futile - with Karen Tunmore unable or unwilling to shed any light on the mystery man.
And today on the anniversary of his death, Scott’s beleaguered and grieving sister Charlie Hellens, 30, declared: “I don’t think she will ever give up her secret. She is just evil!”
“Whether Ste is out there or whether there was ever a Ste - I don’t think she will ever give it up and we will probably never know if there was an accomplice or not.
“What it means for us is, although she is behind bars, we will never get closure for Scott’s murder and for the death of my dad.”
It was on January 7, 2004, as Scott Pritchard was making his way back to his Hendon home, he was confronted by Tunmore and who she told police was her accomplice over a £200 debt of which she was owed £120.
She said she “saw red” started to get lippy. She hit helpless 19-year-old Scott with a baseball bat, knocking him to the ground.
She then bludgeoned him twice more as he lay defenceless - ending his life and starting 15 years of torment for his grieving family.
Tunmore fled the scene in Lindsay Close and returned to her North Tyneside home. Scott had suffered extensive and fatal head injuries and police launched a hunt for his murder which shocked Wearside.
But a year later, with the killer at large, police suspicions turned to his dad, Freddie Stacey, who was arrested on suspicion of murder.
But the veil of suspicion in his local community weighed heavy - with screams and shouts of “murdering b*****d’ echoing in his ears everywhere he went.
He moved out of Sunderland for a while and out of Hendon altogether and sought solace in the bottom of a glass.
Charlie said: “He never got over Scott’s death, but being blamed and locked up accused of his murder just killed him."
The stigma never really went away until July 31 last year Tunmore, then 36 and working as a football coach, walked into Middle Engine Lane police station in North Tyneside and confessed to her cime.
She was charged a few days later - but as the family finally thought they might get justice, Freddie began to drink heavily - the memories and the years of torture pushing him to the brink.
He collapsed and was rushed to hospital.
Surgeons battled to save his life - but he never recovered, He opened his eyes just once as he clung to life and cried as his daughters kept a bedside vigil at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Just a few miles away, at Newcastle Crown Court Tunmore was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years behind bars.Three days later, Freddie slipped away - never seeing his son’s killer jailed or his name finally cleared publicly. He was 66.
His family were distraught by the injustice. They were visited by Detective Chief Inspector John Bent who carried out the latest investigation.
He apologised on behalf of Northumbria Police - telling the family that their dad should never have been linked with the terrible crime.
He vowed to get answers for the family. Police had hoped some time behind bars after finally confessing to her crimes may have led Tumnore to reveal more about her accomplice.
Any revelations may have gone some way in atoning for what had gone before - but the visit to the high security Frankland Prison was to prove futile.
Charlie added: “We said when the police came to visit us after my dad’s death that it was too little too late.
“But we did at least they were trying to get some answers from her. But, although you hope, in the back of your mind you think that if someone can hide for 14 years that she killed someone like that, why would she start telling the real truth now?
“Those years and years of secrets and lies put this family through torture and led to my dad’s demise and eventually his death.
“He went to his grave never seeing his son’s killer get put behind bars and she continues to torture us. She’s just evil as far as I’m concerned.”
Northumbria Police has confirmed it has made the visit as inquiries continue and is still encouraging anyone who can help them trace the man who helped her and went on to keep the secret it had been her who carried out the murder on the evening of January 7, 2004.