In an apparently drug-related crime, a man was strangled and beaten before being buried alive to die in a grave along the Northumberland coast, some 335 miles away from London.
Darren Bonner, 24, died two weeks later in hospital after his unconscious body was discovered by an aged passerby as he was walking his dog, who then heard snoring noises emanating from a shallow grave. The pensioner then called the police, who found an injured and naked Bonner, lying unconscious in a fetal position.
The prosecution claims that Bonner was choked by his boss, Richard Spottiswood, and his partner Lucy Burn, then dumped alive but fatally injured in the poorly-dug hole. Bonner passed away, 16 days later after never regaining consciousness.
As reported by Sun, Timothy Roberts QC, who is leading the prosecution case against Spottiswood and Burn, recalled the incidents from the time Bonner's body was discovered: "The walker called out but got no response and so continued on his way. On his return journey as he passed the same point he heard the same snoring and moaning sounds.
"He called out again and explored a little to see if he could establish the source of the sounds. He could not. So he decided to call the police because it seemed to him someone might be in need of help," Roberts stated.
The prosecution believes that a quarrel row broke out between the couple and Bonner over drugs when the trio was on a caravan holiday at Creswell Towers Holiday Park. Garage boss and alleged cannabis farmer Spottiswood then drove Bonner a short distance in his van before spending an hour digging the shallow grave, the court heard.
Post-mortem evidence revealed there were 12 blows to his back from a rod-shaped weapon. The prosecution alleges that Bonner was strangled in a headlock that led to the bursting of blood vessels in his face.
Cleaners also found out that the caravan where the accused and Bonner had been staying was in an extremely "messy" state on the morning Bonner was found in the grave nearby.
"He is going to do us in"
The prosecution believes that he has compelling evidence against the couple which includes a message that Bonner had sent to his ex-girlfriend that stated:
Several days before, Bonner sent a message to his ex-girlfriend saying: "I have fallen out with Spotty, he's going to do us in. I have got to f*** off'"
Before the court case, Lucy Burn claimed ignorance about Bonner's death but, after court proceedings commenced, she told the police that her boyfriend Spottiswood had asked her to lie to the authorities. She pleads not guilty and stated that she had no role to play in the murder.
But that's not all. Spottiswood also changed his original story from knowing nothing about the death to admitting that they did have an argument after going to the hole to bury stolen guns.
Spottiswood, 34, of Canterbury Way, Jarrow, and Burn, 29, of Burns Close, South Shields, are now facing trial at Newcastle Crown Court as court weighs in on the post-mortem reports.
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