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Pensioner 'killed by head trauma'

A pensioner whose remains were found in his back garden died from "blunt force trauma to the head", police said today.

Northumbria Police said that although no formal identification has yet been made of the remains found in the garden in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, they have "reason to believe" they are of 85-year-old Francis Willis who lived at the property.

Mr Willis, of Staindrop, Leam Lane Estate, had been missing seen since the week beginning August 15.

His 62-year-old son, also Francis, of Carr Hill, Gateshead, has appeared before Gateshead Magistrates Court charged with murder.

He was remanded in custody to appear before Newcastle Crown Court tomorrow.

Today, detectives said a post-mortem examination revealed Mr Willis senior died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Police on Wednesday launched a missing person inquiry, due to the elderly man's frail health.

Northumbria Police confirmed on Thursday that the investigation had become a murder inquiry.

Neighbours said Mr Willis senior was a widower and father of two sons, one of whom died from motor neurone disease.

They said he was a good neighbour and was in poor health due to Parkinson's disease.