Robert Baker given life term for murder of Middlesbrough man John Coates (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Robert Baker given life term for murder of Middlesbrough man John Coates
11:25am Thursday 14th March 2013 in News
A MURDERER described as calculating and cunning has been given a life sentence for a brutal and violent attack on a neighbour.
Teesside Crown Court heard a small piece of plastic with Robert Baker’s thumbprint embedded in the wet blood of John Coates played a pivotal part in his conviction.
The 24-year-old showed no emotion when the jury returned their unanimous verdict after more than five hours of deliberation.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton told Baker he accepted that he hadn’t set out to murder Mr Coates but following a confrontation, the 61-year-old was killed.
The pair, who both lived in Fleet House, Cargo Fleet Lane, Middlesbrough, are believed to have become embroiled in a dispute after Mr Coates let Baker use a key for a communal room and the television was stolen.
After rumours spread around the tower block that Baker was responsible for the theft Mr Coates tried to get the key back and as a result trouble flared.
Sentencing Baker to a life term with a minimum of 17 years behind bars, the judge said: “Something happened that resulted in you attacking Mr Coates and once you started that attack you carried out with ferocity.
“You struck him to the head with a blunt object, nobody but you knows what that weapon was as it was never found.
"You rained blows on the head of John Coates, 15 blows with that heavy object once you started that attack. By the time you were in the middle of that attack you had formed the intent to kill.”
During the trial, jurors heard that after being bludgeoned to death Mr Coates was stripped naked and dumped in a filled bath in an attempt to disguise the attack as a tragic accident.
The judge said: “There was no certainty that he was still alive when you put him in the bath. You then set about with a degree of callousness and cunning, to disguise what you did. You put John Coates in the bath and tried to thoroughly clean the flat – you failed.
“You are a cold and calculating individual and now you have revealed you that you are a dangerous person as well.”