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Female football coach Karen Tunmore jailed for life over 'cold case' murder of Sunderland teen Scott Pritchard

A female football coach who confessed to a "cold case" murder she committed over a decade ago has been jailed for life.

Karen Tunmore, 36, from Towton, Killingworth, admitted during the summer she had killed 19-year-old Scott Pritchard in Sunderland in 2004.

Scott Pritchard

Scott Pritchard

WATCH: The moment Tunmore arrives at police station to confess to Scott's murder

Scott Pritchard, who was using ctutches for a broken foot, was found murdered, with extensive head injuries, outside his home in Sunderland in January 2004 and the identity of his killer has remained an unsolved mystery ever since.

READ MORE: Parents of Scott Pritchard pay tribute to 'one in a million son'

At Newcastle Crown Court Tunmore, who pleaded guilty to murder, has been given a life sentence.

Judge Paul Sloan QC said she must serve at least 17 and a half years before she can apply for parole.

Members of Scott's family, who have campaigned tirelessly for justice, were in court to hear the verdict.

But missing was Scott's father Fred Stacey - who was once charged with his son's killing only for the case to be dismissed in court on the day his trial was due to start - as he remains ill in hospital and was unable to see his son's murderer put behind bars.

Karen Tunmore

Karen Tunmore

A year after his death, Scott's heartbroken dad, who said his life became a "living nightmare", was charged with the murder and spent 16 weeks on remand in Durham prison before the proceedings against him were eventually dropped.

Now, years after Northumbria Police had considered the killing to be a "cold case, unsolved murder", Karen Tunmore has been given a life sentence and told she must serve at least 17-and-a-half years in jail after her unexpected confession.

Newcastle Crown Court heard, after tyring to take her own life in July, Tunmore had told a colleague "i've killed somebody" and made a full confession at the police station.

When she was charged over tragic Scott's death she told detectives: "Tell his family I am sorry".

Prosecutor Jolyon Perks told the court Tunmore said on the night of the killing she and a man she refused to name, but was referred to as "X" in court, had confonted Scott in the street over a £200 debt, of which she was owed £120.

Tunmore told police she "saw red" when Scott said he had no money and had lashed out with a baseball bat after he had laughed at her threats.

Mr Perks said: "She said he had become lippy, cheeky.

"She said she had 'seen red' and hit him on the head with the baseball bat then struck him a further twice once he had fallen to the ground.

"She then left the scene with the other male, in the car."

READ MORE: Detectives still hunting mystery man 'Ste' as they insist: 'case isn't closed'

Mr Perks said Tunmore told police she had been drinking alcopops before the killing and had taken the weapon out of her car to "scare him and wind him up".

Mr Perks added: "She stated she had lost her temper because he had laughed when she had threatened to break his other leg if he didn't settle the outstanding debt."

Tunmore told police "X" had told her to "stop" the violence but she ignored him and carried on with the attack.

Scott's body had no defense injuries, which indicated he may have been taken by surprise during the attack.

Tunmore told police: "He didn't even shout or anything, he just made like a weird noise.

"I didn't think he would die."

Tunmore told police she had inititally "laughed" when she saw on the news that her victim had died but then felt sick.

She said she was fully aware that his grieving father had been charged and remanded in custody accused of the killing.

She said she disposed of the murder weapon in the River Tyne.

READ MORE: Murder cop's message to Scott's family as killer finally jailed

Scott's dad Robert Stacey was too unwell to attend the court hearing and see his son's real killer finally put behind bars.

In his victim statment, which was read in court, he described the suffering and torment he has endured since the loss of his son.

He said: "The nightmare of losing Scott only got worse, a year after his death I was arrested for his murder. This came from nowhere. I was stunned.

"I could'nt believe anyone would think I had murdered my own son."

Mr Stacey added: "Once I was charged, everyone was calling me a murderer. I was heartbroken.

"I was charged with Scott's murder and remanded in custody. I was sent to Durham Prison, where i stayed for 16 weeks.

"I was in a cell for 23 hours per day. It was the worst time of my life.

"I was in prison for a crime I knew I wasn't responsible for.

"From there, I spent seven weeks in a bail hostel, amongst drug addicts and the like before the judge dismissed the charges against me, telling me there was no evidence.

"Unfortunately it didn't stop there.

"Still, now, I get shouted at, people say 'murdering b*****d'."

Mr Stacey said even to this day he lives in constant fear as a result of a crime he did not commit.

He added: "It was heartbreaking to lose my son, torturous to be accused, falsely, over his death."

Scott's mum Kathleen Pritchard, who was no longer in a relationship with his father, said her life dramatically changed from a "normal, happy one" when her much-loved son was murdered.

She said in her statement: "His death is something I cannot deal with.

"For 14 years I have believed that his father was responsible and I have hated him since then.

"When I found out someone had gone to the police and admitted to murdering Scott I have been in a state of shock.

"This has brought it all back. It is like I am living the nightmare all over again.

"My whole family is effected, we are reliving Scott's death, which we are all finding really traumatic."

Judge Paul Sloan QC said Tunmore must serve at least 17-and-a-half years behind bars for the killing.

The judge told her: "His parents lives have been shattered, their health has been effected as a result of your actions back in 2004.

"Mr Stacey suffered the additional trauma of having been charged with the murder of his own son and being remanded and thereafter being subjected to abuse, called a murderer and intimidation, even though the proceedings against him were discontinued, to the extent he had to leave his home, he had to leave the area where he had been living.

"Each describe their existence as a living nightmare."

The court heard Tunmore has been in trouble with the police before and since the killing and has convictions for disorder and drunkeness.

She has also gained qualifications in football and trampolining and set up her own business as a football coach earlier this year.

Stuart Graham, defending, said Tunmore "wished to have justice and be punished" and that there is more to her as a person than the "horrendous" crime in 2014.

Mr Graham said Tunmore has thought about what she did "every single day".

An aerial picture of the location where Scott Pritchard was murdered.

An aerial picture of the location where Scott Pritchard was murdered.