Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Friends Reveal How Victim's Life Careered out of Countrol; as Murder Hunt Enters Its Fourth Day, Pals of John 'The Badge' Roberts Pay Tribute

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Friends Reveal How Victim's Life Careered out of Countrol; as Murder Hunt Enters Its Fourth Day, Pals of John 'The Badge' Roberts Pay Tribute

Article excerpt

TRAGIC FALL daughter Jess FRIENDS of murder victim John 'The Badge' Roberts today told how his life descended into mayhem. As the hunt for his killer entered its fourth day, friends revealed how his lifestyle careered crazily out of control in the months after he split from his long-term partner. But reports that a vigilante may have been behind the attack which came after Mr Roberts was charged with child abduction, were rejected by police.

Asst Chief Constable Steve Ashman said: "There is absolutely nothing to suggest at this stage it was any form of retribution, indeed it would be quite wrong and potentially dangerous to speculate and we are keeping an open mind as to the reason behind this murder." Newcastle United fanatic Mr Roberts' downfall came as a shock to his friends. Those who knew the 32-year-old father-of-one described him as a entrepreneurial "self-starter" with "one hell of a brain" who garnered his nick-name from selling Toon badges to supporters.

After growing up in foster care in Gateshead he took fans all across Europe on bus trips he organised aged just 22. But his independence and business savvy crumbled sometime after his partner left him and took their daughter Jess, now nine, with her.

Friend John Rush, of Cramlington, who worked for bus company KGS, said: "Going back two or three years he started losing his head. It was just daft little things. One night I was coming over a bridge on the bus and he said 'stop here', in the middle of the bridge, 'I'm going to get robbed'. His mind was going. Later he thought the tax man was going to kill him.

"He seemed to go to pot and he used to properly cry on my shoulder." Mr Roberts' increasingly paranoid and erratic behaviour continued when he started using cocaine and bizarrely pulled down the walls of his front room and dug a trench in his floor.

John said: "I knew the mind was going. He had pulled all his walls away and dug a trench in the middle of the floor. He wanted everything out of the house and he was going to put new walls up and floors in the living room. …

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