HomeWorld News'Evil' couple dragged the body of dead friend 'face-down through mud'
'Evil' couple dragged the body of dead friend 'face-down through mud'
‘Evil’ couple who dragged the body of their dead friend ‘face-down through the mud’ before dumping it near primary school are jailed
Robert Halliwell, 48, Melanie Bullen, 53, took drugs alongside Kerry Newman
They woke up to find she had died dragged her body to a Rochdale alleyway
An ‘evil’ couple who dragged their friend’s dead body ‘face-down through the mud’ before dumping it near a primary school have been jailed.
Robert Halliwell, 48, and Melanie Bullen, 53, had been taking drugs alongside Kerry Newman when they woke up to find Ms Newman, 40, had died.
They both ‘bundled’ her into Halliwell’s car, drove half a mile away and dragged her body to an alleyway in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on July 17 this year.
She was discovered face-down, partially clothed, by members of the public on New Barn Lane, near Ashfield Valley Primary School and Sandbrook Retail Park.
Following a post mortem examination, Ms Newman’s cause of death was said to be aspiration pneumonia due to drug toxicity. Police are no longer treating her death as suspicious.
Robert Halliwell, 48, and Melanie Bullen, 53, had been taking drugs alongside Kerry Newman (pictured) when they woke up to find Ms Newman, 40, had died
Halliwell and Bullen (pictured) both accepted perverting the course of justice and claimed that they ‘panicked’ when they found that Ms Newman had died. Today, the pair were jailed for two years
In the early hours of July 17 this year, they were captured leaving Halliwell’s (pictured) flat on the Freehold estate in Rochdale
Halliwell and Bullen both accepted perverting the course of justice and claimed that they ‘panicked’ when they found that Ms Newman had died. Today, the pair were jailed for two years.
Nicholas Clarke, prosecuting, told Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court heard that after recovering various CCTV footage, police were able to identify the defendants and trace them back to Halliwell’s flat.
In the early hours of July 17 this year, they were captured leaving Halliwell’s flat on the Freehold estate in Rochdale.
The footage showed them driving in Halliwell’s car, which was registered to the same address, and arriving near Sandbrook Retail Park, before leaving Ms Newman’s body at around 2am.
Mr Clarke said: ‘They then returned to the flat and were seen to dispose of several bin bags, before returning to the body and searching for something near the body. Police noted they were wearing different clothing when coming back to the body.’
Ms Newman’s body was discovered at around 4:50am that same morning by a man walking home from PureGym, located in the retail park.
He said he ‘wasn’t sure if it was a person or a mannequin’ but had the ‘good sense’ to flag a delivery driver who was going into the school, and both went to check.
Mr Clarke said: ‘Kerry Newman was positioned face down on the grass verge bordering the railing of the school. Her body was clothed but her trousers were lowered down. The defendants were later seen to cover her lower body with a jumper.’
The footage showed them driving in Halliwell’s car, which was registered to the same address, and arriving near Sandbrook Retail Park, before leaving Ms Newman’s body at around 2am. Pictured: Police searching an alleyway off New Barn Lane, Rochdale
Ms Newman’s body was discovered at around 4:50am that same morning by a man walking home from PureGym, located in the retail park
The men called 999, and the operator asked them to turn Ms Newman’s body over in order to perform CPR. However, when the delivery driver touched her body, he said she was so cold he ‘knew she was dead’.
After identifying Halliwell and Bullen through CCTV and the registration on Halliwell’s car, they were both arrested, initially on suspicion of murder.
Both tried to take drugs after the police caution was read to them, before Bullen told officers: ‘She OD’d, mate’, adding that she ‘tried to help her’.
Bullen later gave a prepared statement saying she had known Ms Newman for 10 years, and said both her and Halliwell were regular drug users. She also said that Ms Newman had taken drugs, including heroin, the night before her death.
Bullen claimed that she had fallen asleep and said Ms Newman was dead when she woke up.
Halliwell said in a prepared statement that Ms Newman was a friend of Bullen’s and he had only known her for a few days. He said on July 15, Ms Newman was not breathing properly, and Bullen had tried to give her mouth to mouth.
Mr Clarke said: ‘He said they both continued to take drugs and found Kerry dead. They then panicked and took more drugs. The following day, July 16, they both made a joint decision to move the body.’
Halliwell could not account for Ms Newman’s lower clothing being moved down and couldn’t explain what was in the bin bags. He also described his behaviour as ‘despicable’.
Niamh Ingham, mitigating for Halliwell, said her client had only known Ms Newman for a few days but had offered his home to her as she had ‘nowhere else to stay’
A post-mortem was carried out the same day but Ms Newman’s cause of death could not be ascertained. There were a number of bruises to her body, and samples were then taken to allow for a toxicology report.
Earlier in November, forensic pathologist Charles Wilson carried out a further examination, and has since confirmed that Ms Newman’s cause of death was aspiration pneumonia due to multiple drug toxicity including heroin, cocaine, temazepam and duloxetine.
Mr Clarke said: ‘Due to this and surrounding circumstances, the senior investigating officer said her death was no longer deemed as murder due to the cause of death, and there was no evidence of a direct third party to her death. Hence, it is no longer being treated as suspicious.’
He added that ‘forensic opportunity’ had been lost due to the body being dragged face down in the mud and left outside in the rain.
In an emotional statement, Ms Newman’s mother, Julie, said: ‘I am the proud mother of Kerry Newman who was taken away by a horrible evil pair.
‘I want to know who on Earth would move a body to a different location, a primary school, and dump it like some old rubbish. Normal people would call an ambulance – these individuals clearly have something to hide.
‘I’ll never be able to see my baby girl again, hear her voice, laugh like we used to. She was my only child. Whilst this pair blow kisses to each other across the court I cry myself to sleep at night.
‘I do not have an answer and may never have one. I will never get over this, it gets harder everyday. One day, God willing, karma will come for them.’
Both were said to have previous convictions on their records.
Niamh Ingham, mitigating for Halliwell, said her client had only known Ms Newman for a few days but had offered his home to her as she had ‘nowhere else to stay’.
Ms Ingham said: ‘This was an act in sheer panic. He has PTSD, bipolar, severe anxiety and depression. He had been battling drug addiction for a significant proportion of his life.’
Ms Ingham said Halliwell had managed to get clean from 2018 but relapsed two to three months prior to the offence.
In a letter he wrote to the judge, Halliwell penned: ‘All my life I will carry what I have done to this poor woman. I express my deep sympathy to Kerry’s family and friends. I hope they will be able to forgive me in future.’
Michael Johnson, mitigating for Bullen, said the offence arose ‘from panic arising from terrible circumstances’.
Mr Johnson said: ‘She thinks about her every single day and the indignity she showed to her. She acknowledges was selfish, and expresses regret and shame and offers an apology to family to Ms Newman.
‘Thankfully the victim’s suffering was short lived, this was self preservation and misguided panic, she is genuinely ashamed of herself.’
Sentencing, Judge Tina Lande said: ‘What happened to Kerry Newman may never be known. You two have caused misery and serious distress to Kerry Newman’s mother, Julie. You caused indignity and degradation to her.
‘You contributed significantly to the delay in the investigation. It is clear the offences caused a serious affront to the public standard of decency.’
Halliwell, of Olney, and Bullen, of Shirburn, both on Rochdale’s Freehold estate, were jailed for two years apiece.
As the case concluded, a member of Ms Newman’s family could be heard shouting: ‘A year for a life?!’
Detective Inspector Emma Hulston, from Greater Manchester Police’s Major Incident Team, said: ‘To have left Kerry alone and without seeking medical attention for her was a heartless act.
‘I am glad that both Bullen and Halliwell will now see the inside of a prison cell as punishment for their actions. A file is now being prepared for the coroner with regards to the death of Kerry. Our thoughts remain with her family.’