Man left 'dead on arrival' at hospital after bloody school run roadside battle

Police in Hadrian Road
Police in Hadrian Road

Two men suffered severe injuries during a bloody roadside battle on a morning school run.

Sickened witnesses, including horrified grandparents, parents and children, felt forced to look away when Lee Coleman, 32, and Michael Appleby, 34, inflicted serious wounds on each other using deadly weapons.

Michael Appleby

Michael Appleby

Appleby, who had been armed with a hammer, suffered stab wounds so significant he was dead on arrival at hospital and his life was only saved thanks to the expertise of medics.

Coleman, who carried a "murderous" looking knife to the attack, suffered head wounds from hammer blows that needed stapled.

The fight happened at Hadrian Road next to the A194, the main road in and out of South Shields, at around 9am last November 17 - the morning after Appleby had received a series of threats from Coleman that he would get stabbed during the school run.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Northumbria Police had received two reports on the night before the violence that Coleman was threatening to stab his rival and detailed where and when it would happen.

Lee Coleman

Lee Coleman

Appleby was advised to contact the police again if the threats, via telephone and text, continued, but Coleman was not hunted down or arrested and there was no suggestion made how he could stay safe.

The court heard as a result of the information not being passed on to police superiors and no steps being taken to protect Appleby, an officer was disciplined after the violence.

Judge Philip Kramer said: "A police officer was made aware of the threats to Mr Appleby but gave him the advice he should phone the police if he saw him or if there were further threats.

"I conclude Mr Appleby was left in the position where he as aware violent threats had been made to him by Mr Coleman, was aware Mr Coleman was threatening to stab him on the school run, he was aware the police had been informed to this effect and, as far as he was aware, no steps were to be taken to afford him any protection.

"Having reported the matter to the police they didn't really give him any information which would lead him to have any sense of security about what was going to happen."

Appleby, of Bideford Gardens. Jarrow, had denied affray and having an offensive weapon but was found guilty by a jury after a trial where he claimed he had been acting in self defence.

He was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with a four month night time curfew.

His barrister Richard Herrmann told the court: "Disappointing is the conduct of the police, in the light of two complaints of threats of precisely what ultimately happened to Mr Appleby.

"The handling by the police led to misconduct proceedings against a police officer for failure to property respond and deal with what had been reported."

Mr Herrmann said if the reports had been handled correctly, Coleman would have been the subject of a manhunt and the school run violence could potentially have been avoided completely.

He said Appleby's injuries resulted in him losing a substantial part of his lung, suffering fits, and unable to work.

Mr Herrmann said: "He arrived at hospital effectively dead on arrival, he was operated on for five hours plus, he was in hospital for many weeks."

Coleman, of Beach Road, South Shields, had admitted affray, having an offensive weapon and breaching a restraining order against a previous partner. He was jailed for two years and two months.

Glen Gatland, defending, said Coleman believed Appleby had been "interfering" in his former relationship, which sparked the threats and trouble.

Mr Gatland said Coleman plans to lead a trouble free life after he is released.