By Charis Hill Crime Editor | @HillCharis
There has been an increase in murders on Teesside, the conurbation in the north east of England around the urban centre of Middlesbrough. The increase has seen Cleveland Police open 9 investigations since January- an unusually high number for an area with a population of around 376,500. In each case, suspects have been arrested.
The epidemic began March 5 with the murder of Jason Dean. Dean, 43, or Brackenfield Court, Eston, died in his home. Andrew Timney, who has not entered a plea, was arrested and charged and is due to stand trial May 2019.
Steven Willis, who died of life-threatening injury April 16, was the second reported murder victim in Teesside. Two further victims were treated for a non-life threatening injury.
Five men appeared at Teesside Crown Court September 13 for a pre-trial review. Dominic Pickering, Mark Pickering, Jack Cross, Kieran Ibitson, and Jahmal Weaver denied the murder and manslaughter of Mr. Willis. A five-week trial began October 3 before a High Court judge at Teesside Crown Court. The trial is ongoing.
Jessica Patel was found deceased May 14, at her home on Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough. Her husband, Mitesh Patel, was arrested three days after her death in West Yorkshire and is charged with her murder. Mitesh, 37, who denies killing his wife, is expected to stand trial on November 13.
In July much-loved Dad Craig Barker, of Hardwick, Stockton was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough on July 22 and died there July 24. The incident also led to the death of their family dog Leon.
25-year-old Nathan Davis has been arrested and charged with murder and two charges of possessing an offensive weapon but pleaded not guilty to all charges Teesside Crown Court on August 24 via video link to Durham Prison. The trial has been set for February 4, 2019.
On August 3 mother-of-three Kelly Franklin was found dead on Oxford Road in Hartlepool. 29-year-old Franklin is believed to have died following a tragic stabbing.
Torbjorn Kettlewell, of Oval Grange, Hartlepool, was arrested and charged with murder and possession of an offensive weapon but denies all charges. 48-year-old woman Julie Wass, from Hartlepool, has also been charged with murder.
Kettlewell has been remanded in custody and is due to stand trial starting on January 14.
On August 15 66-year-old Barbara Davison was found dead in Redcar. Crime officers attended the scene along with Police detectives. Paul Plunkett, of Station Road, Redcar, has been charged with her murder. Plunkett pleaded not guilty on October 3 and is due to stand trial from February 18, 2019.
Just two weeks later 36-year-old Laura Harrison died following a fatal incident in Grange Road, Middlesbrough.
31-year-old Jonathon Joseph Robinson of Grange Road, Middlesbrough, has been charged with her murder. Robinson appeared at Leeds Crown Court on September 3 for a plea and case management hearing. A trial is expected to start on January 21 next year.
In September Peter Gilling was found collapsed in Billingham in the early hours of the morning. Police were called but Gilling was pronounced dead shortly after. Darren Willens and Derek Pallas have both appeared in court charged with murder. No plea was entered but it is anticipated they will deny the charge.
A murder investigation was launched following the harrowing death of Natalie Saunders, October 7.
Natalie Saunders’ body was found in Brambles Farm, Middlesbrough in a semi-detached home on Tomlinson Way.
Mum-of-five, Saunders is thought to have died of ‘strangulation’.
24-year-old Stephen Charlton, of Finsbury Street, Ayresome, has been charged with murder. A trial is expected for April 2019.