The hunt for David Wilson’s murder focused on three key areas of investigation, police have revealed.
Detective Superintendent Mark Ord has spoken of the force's investigation following the conviction of Daniel Johnson, 21, today.
The Gateshead man, formerly of Mulberry Gardens, was found guilty today. He had been on trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
Det Supt Ord said: “David Wilson was found brutally murdered on December 14 in 2014. He had been murdered as he most likely lay asleep in bed in his flat.
“The initial investigation revealed, in effect, three key lines of inquiry, three clues left behind by the killer of David Wilson.
“Those clues were, firstly, that the killer must have had access to a set of keys, because we know that when police arrived the door of David Wilson’s flat had been locked and crime scene investigation showed there had been a blood stain - that we could show was David Wilson’s blood - left on the handle of that door.
“The second clue was that David Wilson’s partner, just after 4am that morning, had been subject of a robbery at the post office in Southwick in Sunderland and that, during that robbery, the offender in that case had stolen David’s keys to the flat.
“And then the third clue was, bizarrely, that the killer had rung police at 4.41am on the morning of David’s murder, he had rung police on David’s phone and he had rung asking police to take him home.
“He told us he had been to a house party in Town End Farm and that he had previously lived in Hylton Castle but that he now lived in the Gateshead area and he asked police take him home, a request that we refused.
“So those three lines of inquiry are predominantly what caused this investigation to be as complex as it was.”
The co-operation of David Wilson’s family, the North East media and the wider community - including Daniel Johnson’s own relations and friends - were critical in bringing his killer to justice, the policeman continued.
“It is that support from the family and the media that led us to the breakthrough and the naming of Daniel Johnson as the caller in this case," he said.
“It is that support which had led to the community as a whole being highly aware of this murder and aware of the appeals we made from it.
“I would like to pay tribute to the family for their dignity, patience and support they have shown the investigation over the last two-and-a-half years.
“It is the direct result of that support and the support of the media that got us the vital breakthrough and gave us the name of Daniel Johnson.
“You then move forward and its the support of the wider community - friends and family who have had the courage to come to court and give vital evidence to the court which has led them to the natural conclusion that Daniel Johnson was the murderer of David Wilson.
“Great courage was shown by Daniel’s foster parents, his own sister and his friends to come forward and, on occasion, give very emotional evidence.
“They clearly cared for him as a son but were prepared to come to court and give very emotional but very impactive evidence that, in their view, the caller and the person captured on CCTV was, in fact, Daniel.
“For that evidence, both the police and David Wilson’s family will be eternally grateful."