Further details of alleged murder victim's injuries are revealed as inquest opens

Further details about the injuries suffered by an alleged murder victim have been revealed.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 3:44 pm
John Littlewood, whose body was found at his home in Blackhall Colliery, died from head injuries.

The body of 36-year-old John Littlewood was discovered in a bedroom at his house in Third Street, Blackhall Colliery, on July 30.

Four people have since appeared in court charged with his murder and have been remanded in custody until later this month.

A separate inquest into Mr Littlewood’s death has now opened at County Durham and Darlington Coroners’ Court.

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Flowers were placed outside the door of Mr Littlewood's home in Blackhall Colliery.

Coroner’s officer Julie Nicholson said in a statement to the hearing: “I understand the circumstances to be that John was found deceased at his home address with a major trauma to the back of his head.”

A post mortem later revealed that Hartlepool-born Mr Littlewood died from blunt head injuries.

The inquest was also told that the painter and decorator’s body was identified by his brother, Anthony George Littlewood, on August 1.

A cordon remained around the home for several days as investigations continued.

The family of Mr Littlewood, known as John D, also paid tribute to him, saying: “John D was a son, brother and father who liked to help anyone if he could. He had a heart of gold.”

James Riley, 30, Donna Balfour, 35, both of Ninth Street, Blackhall Colliery, Marty Bates, 29, and Tracey Bunney, 44, both of Tenth Street, Blackhall Colliery, have been charged with murder.

Riley and Balfour have also been charged with intimidation of a witness.

A trial date will most likely be set in the new year, the court was told last month.

A 31-year-old man who was also arrested on suspicion of murder on September 24 has been released under investigation.

A 49-year-old Hartlepool man is also released under investigation after he was last month arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

The inquest into Mr Littlewood’s death was adjourned until November although it is not expected to conclude until after the completion of criminal proceedings.