James Allen jailed for life for two murders

James Allen
Image caption James Allen denied two counts of murder

A man is jailed for life for murdering a Teesside man and a North Yorkshire woman while on the run.

In April, the body of Colin Dunford, 81, was found at his Middlesbrough home. Julie Davison, 50, was discovered dead in her Whitby flat two days later.

James Allen, 36, attacked Mr Dunford while lying low at a friend's house after being accused of a serious crime.

He was found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court and told to serve at least 37 years in prison.

Mr Justice Openshaw said the murders were of "quite exceptional brutality".

'Bloodied clothes'

Allen, who had denied both murders, ransacked Mr Dunford's home, eventually trying but failing to use the pensioner's bank card at a cash machine.

The next night friends from the social club over the road grew worried after Mr Dunford failed to turn up for his usual two pints.

They found him dead in his home in Leven Street on 23 April. He had died of head injuries.

Image caption Julie Davison and Colin Dunford both died in their own homes

By then, Allen had disposed of his bloodied clothes and cycled 30 miles to Whitby and then on to Scarborough, North Yorkshire, where he sold a stolen gold ring.

A day later, he was back in Whitby and was spotted outside Ms Davison's flat.

Police believe he talked his way into her home, attacked her and ransacked the property looking for things to steal.

Ms Davison, who had epilepsy and was the mother of a 28-year-old son, had suffered from serious head and neck injuries.

Investigators linked the two killings and a major manhunt was launched.

Allen - who was caught on CCTV wearing some of Ms Davison's clothes - caught a bus to Leeds after the murder.

'Cruel and wicked'

He later sold her laptop to a market trader, the court heard.

The manhunt ended on 29 April, when Blackpool-born Allen was spotted by an off-duty officer and arrested.

The court heard that he had numerous previous convictions, including an eight-year jail sentence for grievous bodily harm.

Image caption Allen captured on a bus camera with Ms Davison's laptop before he sold it

Judge Openshaw added: "Allen has shown not the slightest bit of remorse or regret.

"Both victims were innocent and murdered in their own homes during the course of a robbery."

A statement from Julie Davison's family said: "Julie meant the world to us and we are still struggling to come to terms with what happened to her on that awful day.

"On hearing the evidence of how Julie died we consider this was an act carried out in a way that was cruel, wicked and so totally unnecessary.

"It causes the family great pain and anguish thinking of what Julie went through in the moment leading to her death."

Temporary Supt Steve Smith, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "The evidence gathered during the course of the investigation left us in no doubt of Allen's guilt.

"We are satisfied that a very dangerous man has been taken off the streets."

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