Killer faces life behind bars after being found guilty of David Wilson murder
A serial criminal has been convicted of the brutal murder of a dad who was found stabbed to death in his bed.
David Wilson was killed at his home in Southwick, Sunderland, in the early hours of December 14 2014. Daniel Johnson, who has a long list of convictions for violence and dishonesty, denied he was the killer during a month-long trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
The now 21-year-old did not give evidence from the witness box but said through his legal team "it wasn't me". After more than 13 hours deliberation, jurors have today found him guilty of murder. He now faces life behind bars when he is sentenced this afternoon.
The court heard during the trial Johnson had mugged Mr Wilson's partner in the street and then used his keys to get into the couple's flat, where he carried out the killing.
Johnson stabbed Wilson, 49, seven times at his home, causing lethal blood loss.
He then used his victim's Samsung E1200 mobile telephone to ring the police after the killing to ask for a lift from Sunderland to Gateshead.
Mr Wilson's killing remained an unsolved mystery, despite multiple media appeals for information by the police and his grieving family, for more than two years.
It was only after a recording of the bizarre 999 call was made public that a witness contacted the police and revealed the voice was Johnson.
Prosecutor Robert Smith QC told Newcastle Crown Court that the call was made from Mr Wilson's phone at 4.41am on the morning of the killing.
Mr Smith said: "That telephone call wasn't made in order to report the incident at Southwick Road or anything connected with it.
"It was, instead, made in an attempt to persuade the police to give the person then using the telephone, the caller, a lift to his home in Gateshead.
"On any view, it was an unusual thing for anyone to do."
Upon conviction today, Detective Superintendent Mark Ord said: "This has been a difficult and complex investigation but today we have justice.
"Firstly I must thank David's family for their continued support and patience. They have been incredibly brave throughout and conducted themselves with great dignity. It is with their support that has led us to this breakthrough in the case.
"It is difficult to understand why Daniel Johnson did this.
"He has remained silent throughout this investigation and refused to give any information to police or the court so we may never know why he has done this.
"We could suggest that the robbery and the reason for entering David's house may have been financially motivated but that does not explain why he went into David's bedroom and murdered him as he lay asleep in bed.
"Johnson is an evil and dangerous individual, he has shown no remorse and David's family have suffered greatly. He has not only put David's family through this ordeal, but also his own family.
"While we may never know why Johnson killed David, at least today he will face the consequences of his actions. I hope this gives the family some closure to be able to move on with their lives."
During the trial, the court heard that Johnson had been to a party in Sunderland that night, where he was filmed downing "suicide shots" of tequila through the eye and salt up the nose.
The prosecutor also told jurors the deadly attack happened when Mr Wilson's boyfriend Scott Hoyle, 34, had gone out to get a McDonald's and got mugged by Johnson when he got back to their front door.
Mr Hoyle was able to run away from the mugger, who took his keys and forced him to a cashpoint, and went back to the flat with the police but, when he was unable to get an answer, believed Mr Wilson was still in a deep sleep inside.
Mr Smith told jurors: "You may want to ask yourselves whether that was because, during the short intervening period between him escaping from the man at the ATM and returning to the flat with the police, the man who stole his keys had entered the flat, in the knowledge gained shortly beforehand of where he lived, and, using the keys to get in, had entered the bedroom where David Wilson was and had stabbed him to silence him then left the property, locking the door behind him."
Mr Hoyle went to hospital and to the police station then picked up some spare keys before returning home. It was then he found Mr Wilson lying on the blood soaked bed.
Mr Smith continued: "He found him dead in bed, ran from the property and made an emergency call. David Wilson's body was seen in situ by a home office pathologist.
"He was on his let side, partially covered by bed clothes and there were blood stains. A blood-stained kitchen knife was on the floor by the bed.
"He had seven stab wounds to the head and neck and a number of wounds to the left hand, some superficial cuts.
"The seven stab wounds represent seven separate actions with the knife.
"One deeply penetrating injury, between the ear and neck, cut the main vein and main artery on the right and caused extensive blood loss.
"It is likely David Wilson's death would have been rapid following infliction of that injury."
The court was also told during the trial that Mr Hoyle was initially arrested on suspicion of murder but no charge was brought against him.
He also gave evidence at Johnson's trial and told jurors he was in "fits of tears" when he found the body.
He told the court he was in a state of shock when he called 999 for help, after finding Mr Wilson lying with "a lot of blood all over the bed".