Disabled John Newton killed in family 'revenge' attack

John Newton
Image caption John Newton died after suffering 60 internal injuries

A grandfather "encouraged" his family to kill a man who he thought had stolen his life savings, a court has heard.

Father-of-two John Newton, 45, suffered 60 internal injuries after allegedly being bundled into a van and assaulted in Redcar, Teesside, on 19 March.

George Thomas, 77, of Wykeham Close, Redcar, believed the disabled victim had taken his safe, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Mr Thomas and four other men, including his son and grandson, deny the murder.

On the first day of their trial, Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said Mr Thomas senior believed he could rely upon his "boys" to "take up cudgels" on his behalf.

He believed Mr Newton, who had a key to his house, had taken his safe containing between £5,000 and £35,000.

George Thomas senior, his son George Thomas junior, 52, of Charlbury Road and his grandson Stephen Thomas, 30, of Penhill Close, deny murder and kidnap.

It is alleged they recruited the help of Lee Woodier, of Shelley Road, and Andrew Jackson, of Cornforth Avenue, both 25 and from Middlesbrough, to carry out a "punishment beating".

They also deny murder and kidnap.

'Ball rolling'

The court heard how Mr Newton was taken by the men down a deserted track outside Middlesbrough and badly beaten.

Mr Newton, who had epilepsy and was registered disabled, died two days later.

Mr Robertson said: "George Thomas senior was not present when the others kidnapped and beat up John Newton.

"He is 77 years old, however, the Crown submit that there is no doubt that he was the one who got the ball rolling.

"He knew he could rely upon his boys to take up cudgels on his behalf."

Mr Newton was arrested, along with another man, and they were later released pending further inquiries.

The hearing heard how this sparked a series of phone calls between the three generations of the Thomas family.

Mr Robertson said: "The family felt the police had failed and they decided to take matters into their own hands."

The trial continues.

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