Tees

Gavin Barnes death: Pair jailed over 'torture' murder

Gavin Barnes Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Gavin Barnes suffered more than 100 injuries

Two men have been jailed for life for the brutal murder of a father-of-five.

Gavin Barnes, 35, sustained 105 injuries in an attack at a flat on Eston High Street, East Cleveland, on 26 December last year.

Craig Barstow, 31, of Steele Crescent, South Bank, and Craig Fletcher, 32, of High Street, Eston, admitted murder.

Teesside Crown Court heard they attacked Mr Barnes for three hours - taking breaks before going back to deal out further punches, slaps and kicks.

Barstow must serve a minimum term of 26-and-a-half years, while Fletcher was told he will serve at least 25.

'Gratuitous violence'

They recorded much of the attack on a phone with Judge Simon Bourne-Arton describing their actions as "gratuitous violence which amounted to torture".

Mr Barnes was a vulnerable alcoholic who had ended up at Fletcher's flat, the court heard.

Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Craig Barstow (left) and Craig Fletcher carried out a "brutal" attack, police said

Having been drinking amicably, an argument broke out. As well as being punched and kicked, Mr Barnes also had a door slammed on him.

His death was a result of multiple injuries, including swelling on the brain, the court was told.

'Heartless murdering thugs'

Cleveland Police described the murder scene as "one of utter devastation".

Both defendants had changed clothing and efforts had been made to clear up the scene.

Mr Barnes had not been known to either of his attackers before that day and "there appeared to be no motive", officers said.

In a statement, Mr Barnes' family said: "We are glad these two heartless murdering thugs have been taken off the streets to make the area a safer place for people to live in, even though it will not bring our much-loved son Gavin back.

"Our lives will remain empty of his presence but we are grateful that justice has been served."

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