Jailed for killing best friend

AN alcoholic who beat to death his best friend has been jailed for life.

Bryan Sorlie, 38, punched and kicked his drinking companion Brian Mohammed Sultan, inflicting 88 separate injuries.

He then left him to die, ignoring his pleas for help.

The 41-year-old dad's bloodied and unconscious body was found in bushes outside Sorlie's flat in Bowman Place, South Shields, last October, Newcastle Crown Court yesterday heard.

He had suffered a fractured skull and broken neck, nose and elbow, as well as a ruptured kidney.

He was also bleeding heavily and suffering from severe hypothermia.

Sorlie's bootprints were found on Mr Sultan's face, head, neck and back. He was rushed to South Tyneside District Hospital but died of heart failure after being admitted to intensive care.

Paul Sloan, prosecuting, said a bloody trail of footprints led from where Mr Sultan's dying body was found to Sorlie's first floor flat.

He added: "When police knocked on the door shortly afterwards, Sorlie answered. He had blood on his shirt.

"When he was asked whose blood it was he said it was his mate's, Brian Sultan's."

Sorlie, a heavy drinker and recovering heroin addict, claimed he and Sultan had come to blows when an argument turned nasty.

He said he'd punched his friend in the nose once, then kicked him out the flat and had not seen him since.

But police doctors said Sultan, from nearby Brunswick Street, had been beaten savagely, kicked and punched, then left to an agonising death outside.

They said the killer blow – a punch or kick to the head which fractured Mr Sultan's skull and caused a brain haemorrhage – was delivered between 15 and 24 hours before he died in hospital.

Grass stains and abrasions to Mr Sultan's arms and legs proved he had been dragged across the ground at some point.

Forensic experts said it was possible Mr Sultan was dragged from Sorlie's flat, but that there was not enough evidence for them to be sure.

Sorlie was under the influence of methadone, cannabis, anti-depressants, alcohol, and tranquillisers on the night of the killing, Mr Sloan said.

"The defendant has no recollection whatsoever of the events of that night," he added.

"We have to rely on the interpretation given by the scientists."

David Robson QC, defending, said at the time of the attack Sorlie was grieving the loss of his girlfriend.

He said: "Life was a tragic picture for both these men. Their lifestyles were extremely similar. They were both alcoholics, both dependant on a number of substances of which they were regular users.

“They were both drifters, both unemployed.

“They both had great difficulty in sustaining relationships.”

He added: “What is significant is that Sorlie was coping with the death just weeks before of his most recent girlfriend, which must have been a terrible shock to him.

“She was an alcoholic, did not look after her own health, and for Sorlie to wake up in bed next to her dead body must have been a traumatic experience.”

Sorlie admitted murder on the basis he did not intend to kill Mr Sultan.

Jailing him for life, Judge John Milford said: “You launched a sustained attack on the deceased, who was in no state to defend himself.

“That attack included the use of your boot-shod feet against his head and neck and caused a number of injuries, the head injury being fatal.

Sorlie must serve at least 10 years and six months before he will be considered for parole.

As he was led from the dock, Mr Sultan’s mother Ruth Sultan shouted: “I hope you rot in hell.”

After the case, Mr Sultan’s family said: “Brian was a loving son and we are still coming to terms with his death. We miss him and wish he was still with us today.”