TWO men have been handed life sentences after being found guilty of murdering a beloved grandfather over a Facebook insult.
Lewis Armstrong, 18, and Harvey Hughes, 20, repeatedly assaulted Ross Connelly with a weapon as he lay in bed.
The 'cold, calculated killers' were sentenced on Friday after being found guilty last month.
"This was a vicious and unprovoked attack on a defenceless man as he laid in his own bed at home," said a Durham Constabulary spokeswoman.
Armstrong and Hughes forced their way into Mr Connelly's home in Wheatley Hill, County Durham shortly after midnight on May 1 this year and repeatedly assaulted him with a weapon.
The pair carried out the vicious attack after the 46-year-old father and grandfather insulted Armstrong's mother on Facebook.
The victim suffered multiple injuries and sadly died at the scene.
The cowardly pair then fled the scene and attempted to evade police but were eventually tracked down and arrested.
Armstrong, who was 17 at the time of the attack but has since turned 18, and Hughes, 20, were jointly charged with murder.
They were also charged with attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to another attack carried out the previous day on a man in Shotton Colliery.
The pair denied all the charges but were found guilty following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court last month.
Hughes, of Girton Close, Peterlee, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 26 years, while Armstrong, of Dixon Estate, Shotton Colliery, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 24 years.
'Good man with a huge heart'
Mr Connelly's family previously described him as 'a much-loved father and grandfather'.
In a statement following Friday's sentencing, they said: "We are thankful for today's result. There will always be a massive hole in our lives.
"Ross was a good man with a huge heart and lots of love to give to both friends and family.
"Ross was a proud Shotton Colliery lad, a proud Sunderland supporter and a proud granddad.
"He is greatly missed."
'Disturbing levels of violence'
A spokeswoman for Durham Constabulary welcomed the sentences, describing Armstrong and Hughes as 'a real danger to the public'.
"Armstrong and Hughes are cold, calculated killers who used disturbing levels of violence to inflict terrible injuries which sadly cost Ross his life," she said.
"They showed no remorse for their actions and even attempted to evade arrest.
"They are a real danger to the public so I am pleased that the jury has found them guilty of murder and that they will now remain behind bars for a significant length of time, where they can cause no further harm to our communities.
"I hope today's result will go a small way to offer some conclusion to the horrible suffering of Ross' family, who have supported the police investigation throughout."