Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Toon Fans Could Hold Vital Clues in Murder Hunt; Police Set to Gather Information at Match on John Roberts' Life

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Toon Fans Could Hold Vital Clues in Murder Hunt; Police Set to Gather Information at Match on John Roberts' Life

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE DOUGHTY

THE Toon Army could hold the key to catching killers that battered Newcastle United fan John 'The Badge' Roberts to death in his home.

Police will mingle with the 52,000 supporters at this Saturday's home game in a bid to gather vital information about the 32-year-old's life and who might have wanted to end it.

And today, exactly a month after John's body was found, detectives have revealed details of the last time he was seen alive to the Chronicle and appealed for help to piece together the missing last hours of his life.

Det Supt Roger Ford, of Northumbria Police, who is overseeing the investigation said police believe John was killed by someone he knew.

And his team desperately need to hear from anyone that knew the dad-of-one, or any reason why someone would want him dead.

Det Supt Ford, told the Chronicle: "I believe the answer lies with John. I believe he would have known the person or persons responsible.

"Understanding John, his friends, his lifestyle and any disputes he might have had is essential in finding out how and why he was killed and who is responsible."

John was found battered to death inside his house in Winlaton, Gateshead, at around 7pm on Sunday, December 16.

His body was discovered by passing police officers who went to investigate after noticing the front door of the Park Terrace Home had been left open. John died of what Det Supt Ford describes as 'significant' head injuries but there was no sign of forced entry at the house.

Det Supt Ford has now revealed that the last people known to have seen John alive were staff at the Kandola Bros Newsagents on nearby Hazel Road, a shop he visited at around teatime almost every day.

The detective says it's impossible to know exactly what time John was killed. But police desperately need to hear from anyone who saw him after he left the shop, and are focusing their attention on that Saturday night. John was wearing a dark green hooded jacket and jogging bottoms on his last trip to the shops.

"We now have the last confirmed sighting of Mr Roberts and it was on Saturday night at the Kandola store on Hazel Road which is about 400 metres from his home address," Det Supt Ford explained.

"Our focus is now on that Saturday evening. He was not seen on the Sunday. We are asking if anyone saw him walking along the road and was he on his own or was he with anyone? "He was a very distinctive looking person with long hair and a beard and very well-known to the local community.

"He left the shop at around 6.30pm and that's the last time he was seen alive. Those missing hours are absolutely crucial."

And who John spent time with during the last weeks and months of his life is also a vital part of the probe.

Det Supt Ford said the murder victim had grown apart from his family in the year before he died. …

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