Man on remand as murder investigation continues into death of '˜gentle giant' Ronnie Howard

A man has appeared in court charged with the murder of a father-of-two who died after a disturbance at a South Tyneside pub.
A police van stands outside the Prince Edward pub at The Nook in the aftermath of Ronnie Howard's death.A police van stands outside the Prince Edward pub at The Nook in the aftermath of Ronnie Howard's death.
A police van stands outside the Prince Edward pub at The Nook in the aftermath of Ronnie Howard's death.

Michael Anthony Wilson, aged 35, of Hylton Avenue, South Shields, appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, yesterday charged with the murder of Ronnie Howard.

Mr Howard was found unconscious by police who were called to a disturbance at The Prince Edward pub, in Prince Edward Road, South Shields, on Wednesday night.

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Mr Howard, 31, was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital.

Wilson is also charged with affray and assault on Anthony Jefferson.

No plea was taken and the case was sent to Newcastle Crown Court on June 3.

No appeal for bail was made on his behalf.

Wilson, who appeared in court behind the glass custody dock in a grey sports top, was remanded in custody.

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Family members who packed into the public gallery wept as the murder charge was read out in court.

CCTV footage showing the disturbance at the Prince Edward pub was shown to magistrates during the hearing.

Seven men were arrested in connection with the murder and five have now been charged with offences.

Four other men arrested in connection with the incident were also brought before magistrates.
David Wood, 28, of Sunderland Road; Anthony Kenrick, 33, of Centenary Avenue and Paul Haley, 26, of Ascot Gardens, all South Shields, were all charged with affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm on Anthony Jefferson, who was in the pub with the deceased.

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John Hayes, 58, of Moor Lane, South Shields, was charged with affray.

None of the men entered pleas, with their cases also sent to Newcastle Crown Court on June 3.

Geoffrey Forrester – representing Kenrick, Wood and Hayes, and Ian Cruickshank, on behalf of Haley, urged magistrates to grant bail until their next court hearing.

Mr Forrester told the court; “These men have a right to bail. You have to look at their cases in isolation.

“They have not been charged with murder.”

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Mr Cruickshank, stressed that Haley should also be granted bail ahead of his hearing at the crown court.

Magistrates agreed to grant all four men conditional bail.
Kenrick, Wood and Haley were granted bail with the conditions they keep to an electronically tagged curfew between the hours of 6pm and 6am each day and do not contact prosecution witnesses.

Hayes was granted bail with the condition he does not contact prosecution witnesses.

Floods of floral tributes were laid outside the Prince Edward pub the day after Mr Howard’s death.

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A steady stream of relatives and friends left flowers with condolence cards paying tribute to the popular man.

Carly Dorothy, a close friend of the family, described Mr Howard as a ‘gentle giant’ who was ‘loved by everyone’.

The 27-year-old laid flowers at the pub along with friend Lyndsay Panton

She said: “He was a big personality, he was loved by everyone.

“He was a gentle giant and had a heart of gold.

“I just can’t believe it, I am absolutely heartbroken.

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“The family are in bits. Everybody is just trying to stay strong.”

Flowers were also left by Mr Howard’s aunt, and a Newcastle shirt – bearing the words RIP Ronnie – was also left at the scene.

A card left on one of the scores of bouquets read; “RIP Ronnie, you were a great lad. Gone too soon, mate.”

Another touching message, stated; “Can’t get my head around this mate, heartbroken and in shock.

“You were always the biggest lad with the biggest heart and your family always came first.”