A murder jury in the trial of a garage boss accused of burying his victim in a shallow grave has been discharged.
Darren Bonner, from Sunderland, died in hospital 16 days after he was found naked in a hole hidden among undergrowth behind a roadside dry stone wall at Shore Road, near Creswell Towers caravan park, near Ashington, in Northumberland, on July 10 last summer.
Garage owner Richard Spottiswood, 34, of Canterbury Way, Jarrow, who employed Mr Bonner, has been on trial at Newcastle Crown Court accused of the
24-year-old's murder, which he denies.
Lucy Burn, 29, of Burns Close, South Shields, was cleared of the murder charge earlier this week.
After hearing legal argument from prosecution and defence barristers, Judge Stephen Ashurst has now discharged jurors from delivering a verdict in
Spottiswood's case for legal reasons.
Spottiswood will face a retrial later in the year and has been remanded in custody until then.
Mr Bonner was found buried underneath tree roots in a freshly dug hole hidden among undergrowth behind a roadside dry stone wall
Medics believed he had been strangled and hit at least 12 times with a rod-shaped weapon before he was buried alive nearby.
They found 32 separate injury sites comprising of grazes, bruises and abrasions across his body and limbs.
Mr Bonner was discovered by police after they had been alerted by a walker who had heard "snoring" type noises as he passed.