John Littlewood murder trial: Detective who led hunt speaks of callous killer who played bingo as his victim lay dead

A killer who spent the days after he bludgeoned his friend to death playing bingo and socialising has been branded “callous” by the detective who led the hunt against him.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 5:31 pm

Marty Lee Bates, 31, of Tenth Street, admitted murdering John Littlewood – known as John D – days after giving evidence in a trial at Teesside Crown Court claiming he had no involvement in the brutal end to the 36-year-old’s life.

Mr Littlewood became friends with the pair and Donna Balfour and James Riley as he moved into Third Street, Blackhall Colliery, in July 2019.

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The family of John Littlewood issued a new photo of the 36-year-old, known as John D, following the outcome of the court case against his killer Marty Bates and his co-accused Donna Balfour and James Riley.

He was repeatedly beaten by Bates with a blunt instrument, believed to be a hammer.

Co-accused Balfour, 36, of Ninth Street in the village, admitted perverting the course of justice by interfering with her home’s CCTV system.

Her partner, Riley, 31, also of Ninth Street, previously admitted intending to pervert the course of justice, witness intimidation and assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to a separate incident.

The defendants visited Mr Littlewood on the evening of Thursday, July 25, when a disturbance broke out – he was murdered at some point in the early hours.

His body was found by his on-off partner on Tuesday, July 30.

As Mr Littlewood lay undiscovered, the defendants played bingo, while Riley was seen buying firelighters and Marigold gloves in Hartlepool.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Weir, who led the murder investigation, welcomed the convictions and while nothing can bring Mr Littlewood back, hoped they would offer his family some closure following the “terrible suffering” they have faced.

“Bates is a callous individual who has shown no remorse for his actions,” he added.

"On the Sunday evening, while John lay dead in his bed, unbelievably he joined his friends, Riley and Balfour, at the bingo in Peterlee as if nothing had happened.

“This was a vicious attack and there is no doubt John suffered at the hands of his killer.

All three will be sentenced on dates yet to be determined.

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