Pair face life sentences for murder of dad

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TWO thugs face being jailed for life after they were found guilty of murdering former computer engineer Andrew Smart.

Ryan Leck, 19, and Ryan Saint, 21, kicked and stamped the father of two to death, Newcastle Crown Court heard this week.

Leck, of Lower Rudyerd Street in North Shields, had admitted manslaughter but denied murder.

Saint, of George Street in North Shields, had also denied murder.

Both were convicted by a jury on Tuesday after a trial lasting more than two weeks.

A third co-defendant, Stephen Kirkpatrick, 20, of Balkwell Green, North Shields, was cleared of murder earlier on in the proceedings but admitted conspiracy to steal from Mr Smart.

The trial heard that Mr Smart, a former high-flier sent into a downward spiral by alcoholism, had moved back to his native North Tyneside from Surrey in 2009 following the death of his mother and the breakdown of his marriage.

The 47-year-old, a former pupil of Tynemouth’s King’s School, had earned £100,000 a year as a self-employed software engineer, but his affluent lifestyle rapidly unravelled as his drink problem got out of control.

His life in the borough, initially in Tynemouth but later in North Shields, centred around heavy drinking and smoking cannabis, and he became a target for youths in the town out to take his money and steal his possessions.

The court heard that Mr Smart was killed by head, chest and abdominal injuries.

He had more than 50 injuries on his body, including 19 on his head, neck and face, as well as 13 fractured ribs.

One of the most significant factors in his death was internal bleeding from his stomach area, which accounted for between a third and a half of the blood in his body, jurors were told.

Mr Smart was found dead in his flat in Sibthorpe Street, North Shields, a year ago in February, triggering a murder investigation by police.

Leck and Saint will return to court on Thursday, April 21, to be sentenced after reports.