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Scott Pritchard murder: Timeline of events leading to justice

Police sealed off Lindsay Close in Hendon as inquiries got under way into Scott Pritchard's death.
Police sealed off Lindsay Close in Hendon as inquiries got under way into Scott Pritchard's death.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004 - At around 6pm, Scott Pritchard returns to his home in Lindsay Close, Hendon, from the nearby employment office, as he was looking for work at that time.

An hour later, he is found battered and bloody at the back of his house, slumped against his back gate. He is taken to Sunderland Royal, but is confirmed dead on arrival. A post mortem examination found he had died as a result of head injuries caused by a blunt instrument.

Scott Pritchard's mum Kathleen pleaded for anyone who knew information about his death to tell police.

Scott Pritchard's mum Kathleen pleaded for anyone who knew information about his death to tell police.

Thursday, January 8, 2004 - Northumbria Police confirm they have launched a murder inquiry, with Detective Superintendent Ian Sharp states: “This was an horrific sustained attack on a defenceless young lad outside the back of his home.”

A 22-year-old man is arrested on suspicion of murder, while a 34-year-old woman and 16-year-old are arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

The street and neighbouring Salem Street remain cordoned off while a detailed search is carried out. The lake in Mowbray Park is checked for a murder weapon during inquiries.

Friday, January 9, 2004- Scott’s older sister Deborah Stacey tells the Echo: “We are all devastated by what has happened to my brother.”

Flowers were laid in tribute to Scott Pritchard as the community learned of the tragedy.

Flowers were laid in tribute to Scott Pritchard as the community learned of the tragedy.

It is reported their father Robert - known as Fred - was understood to be one of the last person to speak to Scott at around 6.15pm on the night of the attack.

The three arrested by police are released on bail as inquiries continue.

Saturday, January 10, 2004 - Detectives reveal Scott was using crutches at the time of his death and say they are yet to discover a motive for the “ferocious attack.”

Superintendent Ian Sharp says: “Our inquiries show he was a nice, placid, likeable young man who did not appear to have any obvious enemies.

Posters were put up and leaflets handed out in Hendon as police sought information about Scott Pritchard's killer.

Posters were put up and leaflets handed out in Hendon as police sought information about Scott Pritchard's killer.

“Yet he was attacked when he was not in a position to defend himself as he was on crutches.”

The Echo reports he was single, well known in the area, and lived with his mum.

Detectives have completed a search of his home by this stage and are working to piece together his movements in the time leading up to his death.

Wednesday - January 14, 2004 - A week on, police return to the community in the hope of gathering further information on the killing, with leaflets and posters issued across the city. They interview 200 people during house-to-house inquiries.

Scott Pritchard's sister Deborah Stacey pictured at the first Christmas the family faced without him.

Scott Pritchard's sister Deborah Stacey pictured at the first Christmas the family faced without him.

Scott is described as “a likeable lad who liked a joke.” with the fresh appeal by police stating: “This was no accident, this was murder.”

It has been established Scott spoke to his dad at between 6.10pm and 6.15pm after going to the job centre and then spent the day with friends, with a gap before he is found just after 7pm.

Friday, January 16, 2004 - Police say they believed misguided loyalty could be keeping people back from passing on vital clues to officers, with 40 detectives now working on the case.

Saturday, January 17, 2004 - A mystery 999 call made by a man at 10.30pm the night after the murder is said to be a new lead in the inquiry.

Friday, January 23, 2004 - Detectives warn up to 20 people could have their images published unless they contact police as the murder squad make another push for information.

By this stage 500 exhibits have been collected, more than 250 statements logged and 450 lines of inquiry have been examined.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Potts leads a press conference at Farringdon Police Station on the first anniversary of Scott Pritchard's death.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Potts leads a press conference at Farringdon Police Station on the first anniversary of Scott Pritchard's death.

January 24, 2004 - Fred Stacey makes an emotional plea for information: “All the family want is for some answers, someone to tell us what happened to Scott.

“I can’t think of anyone, anywhere who would have wanted to do anything like this to my son.”

He says Scott’s five step-sisters and young step-brother, aged just four, are offering him comfort.

February 2004 - The Echo offers a £1,500 reward in a bid to find Scott’s killer a month after his death and urged local businesses to support the search by putting up similar rewards in the hope it would help detectives crack the case.

Rob Lawson then editor, said: “Someone somewhere knows who committed this horrible crime.”

April 2004 - An £8,000 reward now stands for information leading to the conviction of Scott’s killer after a local businessman and friends of his family join the Echo’s pledge. It comes after a specialist team of criminologists are brought to review the case and ensure no clue has been missed.

January 2005 - Scott’s step-sister Deborah Stacey, then 33, makes an emotional appeal on the first anniversary of his death and pleads for people to help bring his killer to justice. She said: “None of us are ever going to be able to rest until the person who did this is finally caught.”

June 2005 - Fred Stacey is charged with his son’s murder, with a not guilty plea indicated during the first court hearing.

October 18, 2005 - Fred, then 52, is due to stand trial at Newcastle Crown Court after pleading not guilty to the accusation, but Crown Prosecution Service announces there was no realistic prospect of a conviction and offers no evidence against him.

Saturday, January 7, 2006 - Scott’s mum Kathleen, who lived with him in Lindsay Close alongside his brother Brett, then 18, and sister Melanie, 15, said she has been left ill and tortured by her son’s death.

“I must have justice for Scott. It’s the very least he deserves.

“I remember a boy who was loving, kind and always here for his family.

“Even today, when I walk through the door, I still expect him to be here, waiting.”

January 7, 2013 - Kathleen Pritchard demands justice on the day her son was killed nine years on.

January 2014 - A reappeal is made on the 10th anniversary of Scott’s death in the hope of finding his murderer.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - Karen Tunmore walks into Middle Engine Lane Police Station and confesses to her crime.

Friday, August 3, 2018 - Northumbria Police announce they have charged Karen Tunmore: “in connection with a historic murder investigation in Sunderland.”
A force statement adds: “Nobody was convicted in relation to the case at the time, but the investigation has remained open ever since.
“Karen Tunmore, 36, of Killingworth, has today been charged with Scott’s murder and has been remanded in custody to appear before Bedlington Magistrates’ Court tomorrow morning.
“Police continue to support Scott’s family at this difficult time.”

Tuesday, August 7 2018 - Tunmore’s case is put before a bail hearing at Newcastle Crown Court but police are left stunned when a guilty plea is entered to the charge, with the judge remanding her in custody.
The case is adjourned until Monday, October 1, for sentence.

Northumbria Police Force Headquarters, Wallsend

Northumbria Police Force Headquarters, Wallsend