File picture: Pixabay coach

London - A girls’ football coach bludgeoned a teenager to death then stayed silent for 14 years – even as her victim’s father was wrongly held in prison for his murder.

Karen Tunmore, 36, was on Monday jailed for life for murdering 19-year-old Scott Pritchard in 2004 in a row over a £200 debt.

Mr Pritchard’s father Robert Stacey was charged with killing his own son and spent 16 weeks in jail before the case against him was dropped in 2005.

Tunmore handed herself in to police in July this year after saying to a friend that ‘the voices were telling her to do it again’.

After killing Mr Pritchard when she was 21, she became a qualified FA football coach and worked with girls across the Tyneside area.

On Monday Mr Stacey, 66, revealed he was forced to move house because of the abuse he faced. In a moving victim impact statement read to Newcastle Crown Court, he said: ‘From the minute I was informed of Scott’s death my life was a living nightmare. The year after his death I was arrested for his murder. This came from nowhere. I couldn’t believe that anyone could think I had murdered my own son but once I was charged everyone called me a murderer, I was heartbroken.’

Recalling the time he spent on remand in Durham Prison, Mr Stacey said: ‘It was the worst time of my life. I was in prison for a crime I was not responsible for.’

Mr Stacey – who is seriously ill after a heart attack and was unable to attend court – said he was forced to move away from his Sunderland home.

Mr Pritchard’s mother, Kathleen Pritchard, 57, told the court: ‘For 14 years I believed his father was responsible and I have hated him ever since then.’

The court heard that in January 2004 Tunmore, of North Tyneside, went looking for Mr Pritchard to retrieve £200 (R3 700) he owed a friend, who in turn owed her £120.

They found Mr Pritchard, who had broken his leg and was on crutches, and she threatened to break his other leg. Tunmore told police she ‘saw red’ when he laughed at her, and she repeatedly hit his head with her 18-inch long baseball bat, shattering his skull into 29 fragments.

She and her accomplice – who she named only as ‘Ste’ – left Mr Pritchard unconscious in the backyard of his home in Hendon, Sunderland.

The court heard that her first response on hearing that Mr Pritchard had died was to burst out laughing. She watched the news in the coming weeks and months and knew his father had been charged.

Stuart Graham, mitigating, said: ‘The defendant wanted to face the music.’

Judge Paul Sloan told Tunmore she was aware that Mr Pritchard had been charged with murder ‘but you remained silent’. He said the ‘lives of Mr Pritchard’s parents have been shattered’. He ordered she serve a minimum of 17 and a half years.