South Shields garage boss tells murder trial he thought Sunderland man was 'faking' injury

The pair were staying at Cresswell Towers, in Northumberland.
The pair were staying at Cresswell Towers, in Northumberland.

A garage boss told jurors he believed there "wasn't going to be a prison sentence for anyone" when he found out his employee had initially survived their deadly row.

Richard Spottiswood, 34, has said he thought Darren Bonner was "faking it" when he appeared to stop breathing after a "20-second" headlock to "calm him down" but then concluded he must have killed him instantly.

Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court have heard Spottiswood left Mr Bonner in a shallow grave at a remote woodland beauty spot on Shore Road, near Druridge Bay, in Northumberland.

The 24-year-old, from Sunderland, was found after a passer-by alerted police and died in hospital 16 days later, without ever regaining consciousness.

Spottiswood, who claimed they had been burying guns in the woodland during darkness when the fatal argument flared, was arrested two days after Mr Bonner was discovered injured.

He admitted he had tried to avoid arrest and then lied to police during initial questioning.

During his second day in the witness box, Spottiswood, of Canterbury Way, Jarrow, told jurors: "After I found out Darren was alive, all I needed to do was stay out of the way until he woke up."

He added: "At the time this was happening, Darren was actually alive.

"All I was to do to was to avoid any prison sentence until he woke up.

"When he woke up there wasn't going to be a prison sentence for anyone."

Spottiswood admitted giving untrue explanations to detectives in a bid that the whole thing would eventually just blown over.

He told the court: "Until Darren woke up, I just lied.

"I was expecting Darren to wake up. "

Spottiswood said Mr Bonner was his "friend" but told jurors he was "unpredictable"

He added: "He could fly off the handle, he was game, he certainly wouldn't shy away from anything, sometimes taking things to extreme if he got angry or irritated.

"He could get really angry at times.

"That was just Darren."

Spottiswood told the court Mr Bonner, who worked for him at his South Shields garage business and helped him grow cannabis crops in flats, had joined him on a family caravan park holiday at Creswell Towers that weekend, and said they had had a "mint" time with plenty of fun and laughter.

Spottiswood said the guns belonged to Mr Bonner, who had bought and sold them.

He denies murder and the trial continues.