Murderer’s appeal bid

John Earle was jailed for life at Newcastle Crown Court in July 1988 after he was convicted of murdering rough sleeper Peter Halliday, 67, whose body was discovered on Embleton beach in summer 1997.

The prosecutor claimed Mr Halliday, who was living rough in a barn near Alnwick Castle, was slain by Earle after a row broke out involving the two men and Earle’s girlfriend.

Earle, originally from Athlone, Eire, hurled the dead man’s corpse into the North Sea, which washed up near Dunstanburgh Castle a week after the killing, it was claimed.

The 45-year-old is now challenging his conviction at the Appeal Court, with his case referred to court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the independent body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.

Earle’s case first reached the Appeal Court in 1999 when he unsuccessfully challenged the jury’s verdict, but it was sent back today because of fresh forensic evidence which his lawyers say has a “Seriously detrimental effect” on the persecution case.

After two hours in court, Lord Justice Leveson sitting with Mr Justice Davis and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, reserved their ruling on Earle’s appeal until a later date.