Man fatally beaten and dumped in shallow grave

A man found naked and semi-conscious in a shallow grave had been left for dead by his boss and the boss’s girlfriend, a court has heard.

Darren Bonner, 24, who had been strangled and beaten, was found by police after a walker on the Northumberland coast reported hearing “loud snoring noises” near a dry stone wall.

Police were unable to rouse the victim, who they found curled in a foetal position, shivering and moaning. He had been left with permanent brain damage, and died in hospital 16 days later.

Richard Spottiswood and Lucy Burn

Image: Richard Spottiswood, 34, and Lucy Burn, 29

Mr Bonner had been spending the weekend with his boss Richard Spottiswood, 34, and Spottiswood’s girlfriend Lucy Burn, 29, at Creswell Towers Holiday Park, in Northumberland.

Both Spottiswood and Burn are accused of murder. They deny the charge.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that garage owner Spottiswood – who grew and sold cannabis with Mr Bonner – suspected Mr Bonner was spying for a drug rival.

An argument between the two men inside a caravan in the early hours of the morning, resulted in Spottiswood putting the victim in a headlock, bursting blood vessels in his face, the prosecution alleges.

Mr Bonner had also received around 12 blows on the back from a rod-shaped weapon, a post-mortem examination result showed.

The prosecution alleges that Spottiswood then drove Mr Bonner’s body down the road in the back of his van, dragging him through a hole in the wall before dumping his body in a hastily dug shallow grave.

Burn has admitted assisting an offender by evading the police and telling them lies. She had originally concealed the fact that Spottiswood and Mr Bonner had argued, saying that Spottiswood told her to lie to police.

Following Burn’s admission, Spottiswood also changed his story, saying he had argued with Mr Bonner as they went to the hole to bury stolen guns.

More from Northumberland

Spottiswood had originally denied all knowledge of the death.

The case continues.