A court has heard of Thursday that a vulnerable father-of-two was tortured and murdered – including being forced to eat one of his own t3sticles.
Jimmy Prout, 45, was allegedly subjected to months of ‘Dark Ages’ abuse by a gang of four people he thought were his friends before they dumped his body on wasteland.
Ann Corbett, 26, Zahid Zaman, 43, Myra Wood, 50, Kay Rayworth, 56, and Prout had a strange relationship which developed an almost “cultish dimension”, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
It is alleged various events in late 2015 created tensions which led to a number of serious assaults against Prout, which included him having his teeth knocked out with a hammer and chisel.
Paul Greaney QC, prosecuting, said: “In effect, over a period of time, Jimmy Prout was not just mistreated, he was tortured.
“The prosecution case is that the four defendants took part in that violence against Jimmy Prout, either inflicting injuries directly or assisting or encouraging the other members of the group to do so. In the end, this conduct was to cause the death of Jimmy Prout.”
He added: “Awfully, on one occasion, Jimmy Prout’s scrotum was sliced open and his testicle was removed; he was then forced to eat it.”
Greaney said the evidence suggested Prout died on February 9, 2016, and his body was dumped on wasteland 100 yards (100m) from his home where it began to decompose and was partly eaten by animals.
The group then allegedly set about covering their tracks as well as fleecing his bank account, asking people if they had seen Prout as they pretended to look for him
Eventually on March 25, the police received a call from Zaman in which he claimed Corbett had attacked him and killed Prout, in an attempt to “throw her to the wolves”.
On attending 35 St Stephen’s Way, North Tyneside, officers found Zaman, Rayworth and Wood, who claimed to have letters written by Corbett confessing to the murder.
Greaney told jurors it was “pure theatre” and invention because they all knew Prout had been dead for more than six weeks.
The court heard Prout was the sixth of eight children and lived a simple life, fathering two children, and was liked by the people who knew him.
He started to live as a tenant at 75 St Stephen’s Way, which was owned by Rayworth, and he soon became integrated into the group.
Zaman and Rayworth lived at number 35, having at one stage been partners, but Zaman had since become involved with Wood, who along with Corbett also lived at number 75.
Tensions arose when Zaman believed Mr Prout had played some part in a theft committed by Corbett’s brother Ivan.
‘He was not able to get Ivan Corbett, who had moved away, and so Jimmy Prout became an easy target,’ said Greaney.
Zaman, who uses a wheelchair, was described as vengeful and controlling and was determined to get his own back.
Greaney said: “The group considered that Jimmy Prout deserved punishment and the punishment he received was brutal in nature.
“He was repeatedly assaulted and subjected to dreadful indignities.
“In fact, we do not understand the defendants to deny that this is so. They accept that Jimmy Prout was assaulted, but each of them wishes to reduce his or her own involvement in events, seeking to blame one or more of the others.
“In truth they were in it together.”
Greaney told the jury that the fact Zaman was in a wheelchair would not have prevented him from assaulting Prout.
“The evidence runs entirely contrary to any such conclusion,” he said. “You will hear from witnesses who saw Zaman walking and otherwise demonstrating himself to be physically capable, even to the extent of carrying out assaults.”
He said Zaman was the group’s leader and controlling voice and the violence would not have taken place without his ‘encouragement and participation’.
The court was shown various clips of CCTV, displaying the deterioration in Prout’s health as the abuse began.
James Prout was allegedly forced to eat one of his own testicles.
Footage from October 18, 2015, shows him walking and jogging. But the next clip from February 5, 2016, showed him staggering along being pushed by Ann Corbett, before slumping on a fence.
Lastly the jury saw footage from February 6 at 9.47pm, where all four defendants are seen with Prout. He was in a “dreadful condition”, supported by Corbett and Rayworth, as they walked him to number 75.
That was the last time he was seen on any footage and it is alleged he remained there until his death on February 9.
The three defendants deny murdering him and causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult. They have all pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice.
The trial continues.