Murderer bludgeoned ex’s teen son as he lay asleep before he hanged himself

A murderer bludgeoned his ex-partner’s teenage son to death with a hammer ‘to cause her the maximum amount of distress’ before killing himself.

Robert Goodwin attacked 19-year-old Nathan Bates as he slept at his home in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, knowing Nathan’s mum Tania Morris would be out.

An inquest heard Goodwin then left the property and hanged himself in nearby woodland, Stoke-on-Trent Live reports.

Detectives say he died in a spot where Tania would routinely walk her dogs, and so believe Goodwin intended his ex to discover not just her son’s body, but also his.

At the time of the murder, Goodwin was on bail after being charged with assaulting Tania and had retained his liberty despite having breached a condition not to contact her.

DS Garry Jackson, from Staffordshire Police, told an inquest into Nathan’s death that the inquiry was one of the most upsetting he had ever worked on.

“To attack a young man in the prime of his life, while he was asleep in the comfort of his bed, is sickening.

“There’s no reason for what Robert Goodwin did. Nathan posed no threat to him.

" I can only think that this attack was carried out to cause Tania the maximum amount of distress – not only the attack, but the likelihood she would find Nathan and also find Goodwin, given where he was found.”

DS Jackson said Nathan was a keen Port Vale fan who was ‘obviously well-liked’, and was close to both his mother and father, Andrew, despite them having separated.

The inquest at Cannock Coroner’s Court, which was attended by Tania, Andrew and other members of Nathan’s family, heard Tania met Goodwin in 2013.

He had lived with her and Nathan for two years before they split up – after he attacked her on August 12 last year.

Giving evidence at the hearing, DS Jackson said: “Goodwin assaulted Tania, resulting in her having hospital treatment.

"He hit her on the head with an ornament and tried to gouge her eyes out. He was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

“Following this Tania ended the relationship and he left the address, taking all his belongings and handing back his key."

The court heard 57-year-old Goodwin appeared before magistrates charged with the assault, and was bailed with conditions that forbade him to contact Tania.

He breached these by sending her text messages and was arrested and brought before the court again on October 4 – but was bailed again to appear at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on October 12.

On October 11, Churchill China worker Tania left the house at 4.15am to walk her dogs before work, leaving Nathan in bed.

She got home at 5.05am and left for work at 5.15am.

She then sent Nathan a series of texts at around 6.30am – and tried to call him – to make sure he was up for work.

DS Jackson said subsequent examination of CCTV footage revealed Goodwin had left the allotments area at 4.49am, and could be seen walking along Waterloo Road towards Burslem wearing a high-vis vest and carrying a small bag.

He said: “He was captured on several pieces of CCTV. Quite chillingly, one piece shows Tania walking away from her address with the dogs and Goodwin approaching the address.

“In a further sighting he nearly bumps into Tania, but then runs away and hides. She was not aware he was there.”

The last time Goodwin was captured on CCTV was at 5.10am, when he was seen going back towards the area where he was later found dead – evidence which suggests he had already killed Nathan by this time.

At 1.20pm, a member of the public found Goodwin hanged in woodland near to the allotments.

Police attended and found a door key, a ‘large amount of money’, a mobile phone and a store card.

His coat and a bag containing his high-vis vest and a Leeds United football strip were also found.

Checks revealed his impending court appearance and at around 3.15pm, officers went to Tania’s house to make sure she was safe.

They discovered the key found on Goodwin fitted the door of her house – meaning he must have had it cut without her knowledge – but did not go in until Tania returned from work a short time later.

DS Jackson said: “Tania was told Goodwin had been found dead.

"They discussed the court case in the house. Due to Goodwin having a key, officers asked Tania if she could check if he had been in the house, or if a note had been left.

“She made a check of the kitchen and nothing was out of place. She went upstairs and shouted to officers. A knife had been found on the landing and the door to Nathan’s bedroom couldn’t be opened.”

Officers then discovered Nathan’s body behind his bedroom door.

There was blood in his bed and on the ceiling above, suggesting he had been attacked while lying there, then stumbled towards the door. He was pronounced dead shortly after 4pm.

A pathologist found he died from head injuries.

Staffordshire Police launched a murder investigation following the discovery of Nathan’s body.

The hammer used to kill the teenager – which had both his and Goodwin’s DNA on it – was later found in the garden of a property in nearby Lincoln Road, near its junction with Camoys Road.

South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh described Nathan’s death as ‘a horribly callous crime’.

Recording a conclusion of unlawful killing, he said: “Mr Goodwin still had a key to Miss Morris’s property. She was not aware of this because he had handed a key back to her.

“While she was out, he entered the house and viciously assaulted Nathan, who is likely to have been asleep in bed, with a hammer.

“Mr Goodwin then left and went to the wooded area again, where Miss Morris would commonly walk the dogs, and there he hanged himself.

“This appears to me to have been a horribly callous crime and I’m very sorry that it should have occurred.”

** Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected]

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