Murder trial hears how South Tyneside suspect previously threatened 'to do' Sunderland shallow grave man in

Cresswell Towers caravan park.
Cresswell Towers caravan park.
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A murder victim claimed his alleged killer had threatened to "do me in" in the days before he was found buried alive in a shallow grave, jurors have heard.

Darren Bonner, from Sunderland, died 16 days after he was found naked and injured in a freshly dug hole hidden among undergrowth behind a roadside dry stone wall in Northumberland last July.

Richard Spottiswood, 34, of Canterbury Way, Jarrow, and Lucy Burn, 29, of Burns Close, South Shields, are both accused of the 24-year-old's murder, which they deny, and are being tried by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.

Jurors have heard Mr Bonner worked for Spottiswood, who he nicknamed "Spotty", at his garage business, with cannabis production as a sideline.

Mr Bonner's ex-girlfriend told jurors Mr Bonner had told her he had "fallen out" with Spottiswood just days before he was discovered injured in the grave.

She said Mr Bonner had told her "he's going to do me in".

The woman told jurors Mr Bonner had also fallen out with a man who he had agreed to supply a gun to and then backed out of the deal.

Jurors heard the associate had "hunted down" Mr Bonner and had also threatened to "do him in".

The woman, who had split from Mr Bonner because he became "possessive, controlling and abusive" in their relationship, told police in a statement she had still been "fond" of him, despite their break up.

But she agreed in court that Mr Bonner sometimes "made things up when it suited him" and may have been trying to make her feel sorry for him when he made the claim about Spottiswood's threat.

The woman told jurors: "He was just Darren. I don't know how to describe it. He would act like a big man but he wasn't really."

Spottiswood and Burn deny murdering Bonner by attacking him in a caravan at Cresswell Towers, near Ashington, on July 10 during a weekend break.

Medics believed he had been strangled and hit at least 12 times with a rod-shaped weapon before he was buried alive nearby.

The trial continues.