‘I hit Jonty Hall with a bat – but didn’t kill him,’ accused tells murder trial

VICTIM ... John 'Jonty' Hall.
VICTIM ... John 'Jonty' Hall.
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A MAN accused of murder has told jurors he did hit John ‘Jonty’ Hall with a baseball bat – but denies he killed him.

Nicholas Rought said he struck out with the bat because Mr Hall came at him with a knife and caused slash wounds to his legs.

The 45-year-old said he went to the bathroom to tend to his wounds after the pair fought, but he believed the violence was over.

He said when he got back to the dining room at the house in Shiney Row, Sunderland, Paul Tate was standing over Mr Hall with the weapon and had “lost the plot”.

Rought added: “I would say he had lost control.”

Rought said he thought Mr Hall was unconscious when he helped carry him out of the house – where Tate then cut the dying man’s throat.

Mr Hall’s body was found dumped in undergrowth by a dog walker last September,

Rought told jurors it was Mr Hall who started the violence in the house where he died when he punched Stuart Smith without reason.

Rought said he then became the target of Mr Hall’s aggression.

He told jurors: “He was in a bad state of mind. He had a knife in his hand.”

Rought said he had tried to kick the knife out of Mr Hall’s hand and added: “I picked a fork up which was on a dinner tray, and I went to strike him in the cheek with it but it just bent.

“It was in self defence.”

Rought said he and Mr Hall then became involved in a violent struggle before he picked up the baseball bat.

He told jurors: “I saw a baseball bat in the corner of the room. I picked the baseball bat up.

“John came at me with the knife, and I hit John once on the legs, once over the shoulder and chest, once on the head and then hit his right hand, where he held the knife.”

Rought said Smith pulled him away from Mr Hall, and he went to the bathroom to tend to his wounds.

He said Mr Hall was saying “sorry”, and as far as he was concerned, the trouble was over.

Rought said while he was in the bathroom, he heard “thudding and banging”, and he heard Colin Brown saying “that’s for getting me slashed up in prison”.

He said when he came out of the bathroom, Paul Tate was holding the baseball bat and had “lost the plot”.

He said Mr Hall was now on the ground and had “blood all over him”.

Rought said he helped move Mr Hall out of the back door where he was put on the ground.

He added: “I saw Paul Tate over him, cutting John Hall’s throat while John Hall was on the ground.”

Rought admitted he helped dump Mr Hall’s body and has pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Rought, of Princess Street, Shiney Row, and Stuart Smith, 42, of no fixed address, both deny Mr Hall’s murder.

Tate was also charged with Mr Hall’s murder but cut his own throat in a prison suicide while on remand.

•The trial continues.