Jarrow woman accused of killing Sunderland man found buried alive is cleared of murder

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A woman accused of killing a man who died days after he was found buried alive in a woodland grave has been cleared of his murder.

Darren Bonner, from Sunderland, was discovered in a freshly dug, shallow hole hidden amongst undergrowth behind a roadside dry stone wall at Shore Road, near Creswell Towers caravan park in Northumberland, on July 10 last summer.

During a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, prosecutors have claimed the 24-year-old, received the injuries which led to his death at the hands of Richard Spottiswood and Lucy Burn, during a weekend break at the holiday park.

Mr Bonner died in hospital 16 days after his body, which had 32 areas of injury and had been covered with tree roots, was found.

Spottiswood, 34, of Canterbury Way, Jarrow, and Burn, 29, of Burns Close, South Shields, have both denied his murder.

At the close of the prosecution case, Judge Stephen Ashurst directed jurors to deliver a not guilty verdict in the case against Burn.

Judge Ashurst said he had considered “the state of the evidence and of the prosecution case” and told the jury: “I have come to the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence in her case to enable you to say that she has participated in the unlawful violence which the Crown say ultimately caused the death of Darren Bonner.”

As a result of the judge’s decision, jurors entered a not guilty verdict in Burn’s case.

Burn has previously pleaded guilty to assisting an offender and will be sentenced at a later date.

She will no longer take part in the trial process.

Speaking from the witness box, Spottiswood has told jurors he considered Mr Bonner to be a “friend” and confessed they were involved in cannabis production together.

He denied claims that he had fallen out with Mr Bonner, who worked for him at his garage business, in the week leading up to the caravan trip.

Spottiswood told jurors there had been no arguments or fall outs in the days before the deadly weekend and added: “There was nothing, nothing at all.”

Spottiswood told jurors there had been no plan for Mr Bonner to join the couple at the caravan.

But he added: “He said he had nowhere to stay and asked if he could come up.”

Spottiswood, who denies murder, will continue giving evidence tomorrow.

The trial continues.