Man jailed for life over killing his elderly father

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A son who bludgeoned his father to death and then buried his dismembered body beneath a patio has been jailed for life.

Francis Willis shattered his elderly father’s skull with blows from a ball peen hammer after an argument about cigarettes.

He then used a chainsaw to hack apart the 88-year-old’s corpse before burying it at midnight in a shallow grave.

Willis told police investigating the pensioner’s disappearance “you won’t have to look there” when they searched the rear garden of the home they shared in the Carr Hill area of Leam Lane, Gateshead, where a patio had been built.

His father, Frank Willis, was buried in four blue plastic bags beneath the newly-laid flagstones.

Jailing Francis Willis, 62, for 17 years, Mr Justice Clarke said the way he’d treated the body had been “an insult to the dead”.

Willis, who admitted murder, was expressionless as he was led from the dock at Newcastle Crown Court.

Judge Clarke told Willis: “Exactly what made you act the way you did is unclear. I take account of what you did to your father, which, while it was an insult to the dead, could not have added to his suffering when he was alive. The sentence of the court is life imprisonment.”

Police began investigating after Mr Willis Senior disappeared in August last year.

Neighbours had been used to seeing the pensioner at his front doorstep, greeting passers-by.

Willis, who has a previous conviction for arson, has an IQ of just 70, the court heard.