Killers lied to Jonty Hall’s daughter as she searched for her missing dad

Members of John Halls family after the end of the trial, with Bethany (right)
Members of John Halls family after the end of the trial, with Bethany (right)
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HEARTBROKEN Bethany Hall told how her family had been left devastated by the death of her dad on the day his killers were jailed.

The grieving daughter described her father, known as Jonty, as a man who would “help anyone he could”.

Bethany had visited the house in Shiney Row where her dad had been brutally killed just hours earlier, only to be told by his murderer, Nicholas Rought, that her father must be around somewhere.

All the while, Rought and co-killer Stuart Smith knew John Hall was lying dead in a ditch.

Mr Hall’s body was found hidden in undergrowth by a dog walker, less than 24 hours after his brutal killing.

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday Rought, 45, of Princess Street, Shiney Row, was sentenced to life behind bars and told he must serve a minimum of 19 years before he can even apply for parole.

Smith, 42, of no fixed address, was given a 15-year sentence for manslaughter.

Speaking after the men who killed her dad were given the jail terms, Miss Hall spoke of the irreplaceable loss they have caused her grieving family.

She said: “No sentence could ever reflect the pain and heartache we feel as a family. What we have lost is irreplaceable, and we must live with our loss every day.

“A lot has been written in the media and social media about our father.

“The man that we knew and loved was a family man who loved nature and the outdoors, and would go out of his way to help anyone he could.

“Nothing can justify what happened to our dad.

“He will be sadly missed by all those who loved him and whom he loved.”

Rought and Smith had denied involvement in Mr Hall’s brutal death at a house in Mill Terrace, Shiney Row.

The 46-year-old had such severe injuries that his face was left “flat and without structure”.

The dad-of-two had also had his throat cut, was stabbed with a fork and had multiple wounds inflicted to his body, hands, penis and testicles.

A jury concluded Rought had used a baseball bat to inflict the gruesome injuries, while Smith played a lesser part in the violence.

Judge John Milford QC paid tribute to the family at the conclusion of the case.

The judge said: “I am conscious they have been in the public gallery throughout a protracted trial.

“It must have been an agonising experience for them.

“I am extremely grateful for the quiet and dignified way in which they have conducted themselves throughout.

“I hope, now they have a resolution to the case, it can, to some extent at least, assist the grieving process.”

Rought was convicted of murder after a two-week trial while Smith was convicted of manslaughter.

Both men had previously pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice in connection to their efforts to dispose of Mr Hall’s body and clean up the house where the killing happened.

A feud had developed between Rought and Mr Hall dating back 20 years from when Rought was kidnapped by gangsters and tortured for three days in Scotland, for which he blamed Mr Hall.

Addressing Rought, Judge Milford said: “When the deceased’s daughter Bethany Hall came looking for her father, you lied to her repeatedly.

“She was led to believe, cruelly, that her father was probably alive.”

The judge said the attempts to get rid of Mr Hall’s dead body were a “gross affront” to the dead man and his family.