Former Sunderland AFC and Hartlepool United footballer misses court hearing charged with father's murder

The case against a former professional footballer accused of murdering his father has reached crown court.

Monday, 25th January 2021, 6:49 pm
Paul Conlon pictured in action for Sunderland's youth team after moving from Hartlepool United in 1996.

Ex-Hartlepool United and Sunderland player Paul Conlon is charged with killing his father, Harry Conlon, following an incident at Mr Conlon Senior’s home in Deansfield Close, Sunderland, on December 24 last year.

Conlon, 43, of no fixed address, was initially arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after 77-year-old Mr Conlon Senior was taken to hospital with head injuries.

Northumbria Police confirmed last week that the case had become a murder investigation after Mr Conlon Senior died on January 18.

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Deansfield Close in Sunderland where Northumbria Police say Harry Conlon, 77, was assaulted on Christmas Eve. He died of his injuries on Monday, January 18.

Conlon, who joined Sunderland in 1996 after breaking into Hartlepool United’s first team as a teenager, was due to appear at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday, January 25, to face the new charge for the first time.

But Judge Paul Sloan said: "His attendance has been excused today.

"He has tested positive for Covid so it has not been possible to link him in from Durham Prison."

In Conlon's absence, Judge Sloan adjourned the case until Thursday, March 18, for a plea hearing with a trial provisionally set for Monday, May 24.

Conlon signed for his home city club in controversial circumstances after bursting into Hartlepool United’s senior side with four goals in 11 matches.

Sunderland were able to sign the forward for free after apparently exploiting a loophole in his Pools contract.

But he never played for the Black Cats’ first team and drifted into non-league football.

Following Mr Conlon Senior’s death, Detective Chief Inspector Jane Fairlamb, the case’s senior investigating officer, said: “This is a tragic case which has sadly resulted in Harry’s death and our thoughts go out to his family at this terrible time.

“Specialist family liaison officers will continue to offer them any support they need as they try to come to terms with their devastating loss.

“They have asked that their privacy is respected at this time and I would also ask the public to avoid any speculation that could prejudice the live court proceedings.”

A neighbour in Mr Conlon Senior’s street also described him as a “quiet man” who was friendly and still very active.

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