John Littlewood murder trial: Accused Tracey Bunney tells court 'he was my friend' as she denies his killing

A woman standing trial alongside her boyfriend for the murder of John Littlewood has told the trial they did not kill him – saying he was their “best friend.”

Friday, 16th April 2021, 5:40 pm

He was found dead of head injuries in his Third Street home on Tuesday, July 30, 2019, with the prosecution case he was attacked in the early hours Friday, July 26, after Bates was driven to the back of his house in his BMW by Bunney.

That followed a disturbance between Mr Littlewood, Bates and another man on the Thursday night, when Bates struck him over claims Mr Littlewood’s claims Bates had kidnapped and attacked him with a baseball bat.

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Police closed off the back lane to John Littlewood's home in Third Street as inquiries got under way into his death in July 2019.

Teesside Crown Court has been told Mr Littlewood sustained bruises in a fall down stairs, not an assault, while Bates patched up the cut he caused and they apologised to each other.

In evidence, Bunney said the other man then launched a “flying kick”, at Mr Littlewood over money and claims he had a safe house, with Mr Littlewood asking they leave, signalling the end of their friendships.

Hartlepool-born Bunney said the men discussed plans that morning to confront Mr Littlewood, with Bates and Bunney spending the day with him without mention of the ill-feeling, to which Bunney told the court: “I let him down, didn’t I?”

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The court heard the couple rowed over Bates’ affair with his step-mother Keran Carter and he accused her of an affair with Mr Littlewood.

She said the pals were not in a relationship, with Bates’ vallium, booze and crack binges causing him to be paranoid.

Bunney repeatedly called Mr Littlewood her “friend” and Bates’ “best friend” and she would have raised the alarm if she knew he had come to harm, saying she was “devastated" by his death.

She said: “He was a lot like me, got on with anybody, didn’t fight and did anything for anybody, he was just a nice lad.”

Bunney said Mr Littlewood would often tell lies to get people to like him and they would bicker, but both disliked fighting.

The former hairdresser believed a woman who told her he was dead before the discovery of his body was “just messing about” and winding her up.

Prosecutor Richard Wright QC questioned what happened when they left another couple’s house in Ninth Street at 12.02am on the Friday, pulling into First Street and then a service lane into Second Street – a short distance from the back of Mr Littlewood’s home.

The mum and gran claimed it was because they were arguing as he wanted more drink from the Esso garage, with Bates telling her to get out the BMW before he did, leaving the keys in the ignition.

Bunney said she paused for a cigarette before driving home as she had: “just had enough, sick of the pills, drink and cheating.”

She admitted lying to the police about that journey home because she had driven while drunk and said she never saw the clothing Bates had been wearing again.

Mr Wright put it to her she was supposed to wait for him to return from Mr Littlewood’s, but instead left.

Her evidence will continue on Monday.

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