A bloke who never had a bad bone in his body.
He loved the Toon more than anyone I know, and it was such a sad, sad day when we (Newcastle fans) found out a year ago that he had been murdered.
The mum of murdered John ‘the badge’ Roberts has made an emotional plea to catch his killers on the first anniversary of his death
Treasured family photographs reveal for the first time the happy childhood of murdered John ‘the Badge’ Roberts.
Smiling for the camera on birthdays, family holidays, and while playing outside, the loving lad could never imagine that his life would be so brutally cut short and come to a violent end at the age of 32.
The pictures give a never before seen glimpse into the private life of the murder victim whose killers remain at large 12 months on from his horrifying death.
His mum Jennifer has chosen to share memories of the John she knew today, on the first anniversary of his death, as she makes an emotional plea for information about her son’s murder.
Speaking for the first time since John was found dead at his home in Winlaton, Gateshead, on December 16, 2012, Mrs Roberts has paid tribute to her eldest boy, and begged those who know who killed him to come forward before they strike again.
And detectives have also today revealed that the DNA of an unknown female has been found in John’s Park Terrace home, and they are urging that person to get in touch.
Mrs Roberts said: “John was my eldest son and he was brutally murdered in his home one year ago. There are many other parents who have lost a child so you will know how we feel today.
“There is a person, or people, out there in our community who took John’s life. He was only 32 years old. The law in our country doesn’t hand down the death penalty for anyone, but whoever is responsible for John’s murder could decide to do it again.
"They have got away with a year of freedom so far. Next time it might be your child.
"Please help bring them to justice. The police continue to work on the investigation and they are waiting for a vital piece of information. Do you hold the last piece in the jigsaw?”
John’s body was found on the evening of Sunday, December 16, when police officers on patrol in Winlaton noticed the door to his Park Terrace home had been left open and went to investigate. The devoted Newcastle United fan died as the result of serious head injuries.
A murder probe was launched, which has now become one of the biggest detectives at Northumbria Police have worked on. In January John’s picture was handed-out to thousands of Newcastle United fans at St James’ Park, as police probed the theory that members of the Toon Army could hold the key to solving the murder.
Detectives have also visited more than 2,500 homes in the Winlaton area asking for information, and they took the unusual step of using an actor to film a reconstruction of John’s last known movements.
But despite arresting and questioning eight people police have not yet charged anyone with John’s murder and all the suspects have been told they face no further action.
Det Supt Roger Ford, of Northumbria Police’s Major Crime Team, who is leading the enquiry has vowed not to give up until John’s killers are caught.
“It’s been 12 months since John Roberts was murdered and the investigation to catch his killer is very much ongoing, he said.
“In the last 12 months we have carried out over 2,500 house to house enquiries and spoken to in excess of 5,000 people as part of the investigation and we will continue to work until we find who killed him.
“We still need the public’s help and would urge anyone who knows anything, people who might have heard anything about John’s murder, or anyone who thinks they could help us solve this murder to get in touch with us.”
John was found dead in the living room of his home.
Forensic enquiries carried out at the scene identified DNA evidence. Analysis of this DNA showed that it belonged to a female, who is suspected of being involved in John’s death in some way.
And Det Supt Ford is now urging this person to contact police.
“DNA evidence from the crime scene tells us John had come into contact with a female inside his home sometime before his death, he continued.
“We’ve DNA tested people who we know were associated with John and are checking the DNA with national databases and it’s only a matter of time before we get a hit. From what we found at the scene we believe that she was involved in John’s death in some way.
“She could hold the key to us finding out who killed John Roberts and it’s vital that we find out who she is.
“People only need to give us a name and because of the DNA evidence we can quickly and easily eliminate people from our enquiries.”
Dad-of-one John, who earned his nickname selling pin badges outside the Tyneside Irish Centre, near St James’ Park, on match days, was last seen alive when he visited the Kandola Store near his home in Winlaton to buy cigarette papers, at around 6.30pm on December 15. But what happened in the missing hours between him leaving the shop and when his body was found is still unknown.
Mrs Roberts, who lives in Gateshead with John’s dad David, is now urging the community to think back to that night. She said: “Were you in Winlaton last year on the evening of Saturday December 15 or the morning of Sunday December 16 and saw or heard anything? You may not think what you saw or heard was important, but have you told the police?
“John is gone. He has been denied a future. He will never have the opportunity to see his daughter grow up. If you know anything, please help me and talk to the police.”
And paying tribute to her son, the heartbroken mum added: “He grew up within a stable close-knit family and was a much loved member of that extended family.
"John was an intelligent boy. He showed he had a lot to gain from life and as a young teenager he was buying and selling badges and football programmes.
"He wrote a fanzine for Newcastle United and was always showing his entrepreneurial skills.”
Police will once again be in Winlaton today speaking to local residents about John’s death.
Anyone who has any information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.