Five people arrested over unsolved murder of Blackhall Colliery dad John Littlewood
Detectives investigating the murder of John Littlewood have arrested five people in connection with their inquiries.
Three men who were previously detained on suspicion of murder on August 2 and released under investigation have been rearrested.
Durham Police also announced on Tuesday morning that a further two women have also been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Two men, aged 29 and 30, and the two women, aged 35 and 44, were arrested in Blackhall Colliery.
A 29-year-old man was arrested in Hartlepool.
They all remain in police custody while extensive searches throughout the North East take place on Tuesday.
The body of John – known as John D – was found in a house in Third Street, Blackhall Colliery, on July 30.
The 36-year-old dad died as a result of head injuries.
A dedicated team of detectives, crime scene investigators, uniformed officers and other staff have been working on the investigation, which is being led by Detective Superintendent Kevin Weir.
“This morning’s arrests are a significant development in what has been a complex investigation,” he said.
“We will be carrying out searches at properties in the Blackhall Colliery and Hartlepool areas throughout the day in connection with the investigation. We will also be searching a property in the South Shields area.”
Two weeks after the discovery of his body, his father, John, and step-mum, Julie, issued a heartfelt appeal urging anyone who knew anything about their son's tragic death to come forward and speak to police.
"John D had a heart of gold, he would do anything for anyone. We just don't know why this has happened to him," said 55-year-old John.
"I've lost a son, his siblings have lost their brother and his children have lost their dad. Please help us find who has done this to him. This could be your son.”
Det Supt Weir added: “I would urge anyone who has any information which could help our inquiry, to speak to an officer on the ground or call us on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”