A serial killer previously convicted of murdering three teenagers has been found guilty of killing a fourth child, whose body was found in a derelict building over 20 years ago.
Steven Grieveson, 42, confessed to the killing of 14-year-old Simon Martin but pleaded not guilty to murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
But yesterday a jury found him guilty of murder after a nine-day trial.
The schoolboy had suffered head injuries when his body was discovered at Gillside House in Roker, Sunderland, on May 26 1990.
In January last year Grieveson told police in an interview he had gone to the property with Simon after they had been playing football together.
Then 19, Grieveson said he and the 14-year-old “performed a sex act” but claimed he went on to kill him to cover up his sexuality and was now “haunted” by his crime.
The jury at Newcastle Crown Court heard how he had been convicted in 1996 of murdering Thomas Kelly, 18, David Hanson and David Grieff, both 15, in 1993 and 1994.
For those murders Grieveson was given three life sentences with a minimum tariff of 35 years in prison.
All three boys had been strangled and their bodies burned.
Simon’s parents, Robert and Jean Martin, said: “Today is the end of a long journey for us, which will finally give us closure. I would like to thank Northumbria Police and all those who have worked on this case to get today’s decision.
“It has been a traumatic and life changing experience for all the families involved. Now Grieveson could spend the rest of his days behind bars.
“No other family should have to lose a son and suffer the heartache we have had to endure.”
Detective Superintendent Roger Ford, of Northumbria Police, said: “Grieveson is a calculated serial killer whose actions left residents shocked and cast a shadow over the community for many years.
“I would like to pay tribute to Simon Martin’s family and friends who have waited for such a long time to see someone take responsibility for this terrible crime and see justice being done.”
Sentencing Grieveson to life in prison with a minimum term of 35 years, Mr Justice Ramsey said it was a horrendous attack on an innocent young boy.
“In 1990 you murdered Simon Martin, a 14-year-old schoolboy who had become your friend,” he said.
“He came from a supportive family, of a father, a mother and a brother. He had everything to live for.
“This was a horrendous attack and murder of an innocent young boy, groomed by you and lured for your sexual pleasure.”
In a statement after the hearing, the families of Grieveson’s three other victims said they would never forget their sons, who would now be grown men.
They said: “Our sons were taken away from us by a cruel man whose despicable actions cost four boys their lives.
“These were innocent boys whose actions led in no way to their devastating and tragic deaths.
“Listening to this trial has brought back so many painful memories for us, and we would like to express our deepest sympathies to Simon’s parents, Robert and Jean Martin, for the pain they have suffered over the last 23 years.
“We hope that the outcome of this trial will help them to feel that justice has been done for Simon.
“Our sons would be grown men now. We will never forget them and they will live on in our hearts forever.”