Four people have been jailed for a total of more than 80 years for their roles in the murder of a vulnerable man.
James Prout was brutally tortured and killed by four of his friends and neighbours.
The body of the 43-year-old was found on wasteland near his home address in St Stephen’s Way, Percy Main, on Easter Sunday last year – just two days after he was formally reported missing after family and friends had not seen him since the beginning of February 2016.
Following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, Zahid Zaman – branded “evil” by the judge – and Ann Corbett were found guilty of murder.
And at court today (Tuesday), Zaman, 42, of St Stephen’s Way, Percy Main, was given a life sentence, with a minimum term of 33 years.
Corbett, 26, also of St Stephen’s Way, Percy Main, was jailed for a minimum of 27 years.
Their co-accused Myra Wood, 49, and Kay Rayworth, 55, also of Percy Main, were found guilty of causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult.
Wood was sentenced to nine years in prison while Rayworth was jailed for 12 years and four months.
The court heard that Mr Prout was reported missing at around 8am on Good Friday but had not been seen by friends or family since early February.
Police launched a murder investigation and carried out a number of inquiries at Mr Prout’s home address and at 3.30pm on Easter Sunday they found a body.
The court heard that Zaman believed Mr Prout had stolen from him and, along with Corbett, subjected Mr Prout to sickening torture and attacks, which included cutting out a testicle and forcing him to eat it, knocking his teeth out, and forcing him to have sex with Zaman’s dog.
After Mr Prout died, they dumped his body in wasteland, stole his bank card to fleece his account but pretended to be concerned for his whereabouts and joined in the search for him.
After the sentencing Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fairlamb said: “I welcome the outcome of sentencing today for these four people who collectively have been responsible for Jimmy’s death.
“This truly has been one of the most awful cases I have dealt with.
“The way these people treated this man was abhorrent. He was brutally tortured by these people who were supposed to be his friends.
“It’s hard to believe that a human being could have been treated in this way.
“I hope today’s outcome can help Jimmy’s family seek solace and move on with their lives.”
Jimmy’s brother, Edward Prout, said: “We would like to thank the Judge and the jury for their verdicts and outcomes.
“I buried my brother Jimmy on my birthday last year and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
“My brother was my best pal and by killing Jimmy, they have killed part of me.
“The officers in the case have been great and I would like to thank them for everything. Now it is time for us to fully grieve in peace and move on with our lives.”