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Vital clue led to the door of John Coates killer
WHEN John Coates was found naked in his bathtub his family believed he had died as the result of a tragic accident.
The 61-year-old had not been seen for several days and his alarmed brother made the grim discovery when he called at his flat on Thursday, September 13 last year.
Initially the death was not treated as suspicious but as soon as a pathologist saw the extent of the head injuries Mr Coates had suffered, he immediately contacted the police.
Nothing in the flat looked out of place and there was no sign of forced entry, as a result Mr Coates’ family had already started sorting through his affairs and vital clues could have been lost.
However, two pieces of evidence that helped to convict Baker were still in the flat, the boxes for Mr Coates’ Xbox and his tablet computer, which were found to have been in the defendant’s possession following the murder.
But it was a tiny piece of plastic from a budgerigar toy that led detectives to the door of Robert Baker. The plastic had a thumbprint of the murderer captured in the wet blood of John Coates.
In the days following Mr Coates’ death, the 24-year-old was captured on CCTV going in and out of the block of flats, where the pair lived, with bags believed to contain wither stolen property from the flat or the victim’s bloodied clothes, which have never been found.
The man who led the hunt for the killer, Temporary Detective Superintendent Peter McPhillips, his team had built a compelling case against Baker and praised witnesses for coming to court to give evidence.
He said: “Throughout the investigation and during his interviews, Baker has shown no remorse or compassion for his victim and he has made no attempt to account for his actions. He is an extremely dangerous and violent individual who will now face a substantial time in jail so that the communities of Cleveland can be protected.”
Outside the court Mr Coates brother, Raymond, paid tribute to a quiet man who had successfully fought battles against alcoholism and cancer.
He said: “John was a kind and gentle man who would give help to anyone without thought of any gain, it was this kindness that ultimately led to his death.
“The loss of John through such a barbaric and vicious crime has hit the family very hard. We would like to draw a line under this and be allowed to heal and come to terms with it in our own way.”
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