Jury hears murder victim was bludgeoned to death with heavy metal weapon (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Jury hears Middlesbrough murder victim was bludgeoned to death with heavy metal weapon
A MURDER trial has heard how a man suffered three skull fractures after being attacked with a heavy metal weapon, possibly a hammer, during a brutal and sustained assault.
John Coates was hit about the head and face on at 15 occasions, which would have caused massive blood loss, Teesside Crown Court was told.
Pathologist Nigel Cooper told jurors that blows would have resulted in unconsciousness and eventually the death of the 61-year-old.
The court heard how Mr Coates, of Fleet House, Cargo Fleet Lane, Thorntree, Middlesbrough, was attacked in the living room of his flat but was discovered naked in a half filled bathtub.
Dr Cooper said: “He was hit repeatedly on the head with a blunt weapon, or weapons, this caused three areas of bone fracturing. It may be that these impacts caused death by themselves and the injuries would have bled very heavily.”
The pathologist said the likely weapon was either a hammer or a tyre lever.
Explaining how Mr Coates ended up in the bath, Dr Cooper said: “The likely thing is he was knocked unconscious and never recovered consciousness with those circumstances, someone must have had to move him.”
Robert Baker, 24, denies murdering Mr Coates in September last year.
Forensic scientists examined around 400 marks lifted from the scene of Mr Coates' killing in the tower block in Middlesbrough.
Among the prints were those of police officers, paramedics, undertakers, the victim's relatives and Mr Baker.
Mr Baker - a neighbour of Mr Coates in the Cargo Fleet Lane flats - is said to have beaten the shop worker to death last September.
The jury heard today that 50 of the 400 fingerprints could not be matched to any known person.
Expert Mark Hagan said some of the prints were found on packages and paperwork and could have come from people outside.
However, defence barrister, Martin Bethel, QC, said others on doors, door frames and a birdcage were made by people inside the flat.
Mr Bethel asked Mr Hagan: "They have been put there by somebody who has been inside - not from an outside source?" He agreed.
"So they are marks left by someone who has been in the flat and we are not able to identify who they are?"
Mr Hagan said: "That's correct."
The trial continues.