Tyne & Wear

Life sentences for North Shields man's murder

Ryan Saint and Ryan Leck
Image caption Mr Smart's daughter said she was satisfied with the verdict

Two men have been given life sentences for the murder of a "vulnerable" man in his home in North Shields.

The body of Andrew Smart, 47, was found at his home in Sibthorpe Street in February 2010 with multiple injuries following a sustained assault.

Ryan Saint, 21, of George Street, and Ryan Leck, 19, of Lower Rudyerd Street, both North Shields, were found guilty of murder and conspiracy to steal.

Saint will serve a minimum of 22 years and Leck a minimum of 21 years.

They were sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court following a trial in March.

Northumbria Police said Mr Smart had battled an alcohol problem for some years and had moved to North Tyneside from Surrey.

They said he had been a self-employed software engineer and was described as hard-working and intelligent but his life had changed and he had become a "vulnerable" figure.

Detectives found he he had been targeted by a group of young men because of his drink problem and over a period the behaviour became more threatening.

'Totally abhorrent'

He was captured on CCTV footage on 25 February shopping in North Shields with facial injuries.

Image caption Mr Smart had been a self-employed software engineer

Det Ch Insp Peter Bent, of Northumbria Police, said: "This has been a very upsetting and difficult time for Mr Smart's family and I hope they now feel that justice has been done.

"The murder has had a major affect on the family as a whole and Andrew's children in particular who are keenly feeling his loss.

"It is totally abhorrent that a group of people can behave in this way which culminated in the death of a vulnerable man who needed help."

Mr Smart's daughter Rachael said she was satisfied with the verdict and thanked Northumbria police for their investigation.

She said: "I cannot forgive these people for what they have done.

"We all lost someone that we loved and cherished, it was a day that I will never come to terms with or understand.

"My dad was cruelly taken away from us at a time when he was vulnerable and had been taken advantage of."

Another man Anthony Smith, 19, of Gardner Place, North Shields, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary and was sentenced to 16 months on 13 December.

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