THE brutal slaying of Mark Denton sent shockwaves through Hartlepool, writes IAN WILLIS.
On the night of December 31, many of his pals had gone out to party to wave goodbye to 2013 and welcome in a New Year.
The next morning, those friends were mourning, struggling to believe what they were hearing after the horror that had unfolded just hours earlier.
Hartlepool is a small town, a close-knit town. Rumours spread fast.
Mark’s murder was the talk of the town that day. And it has been ever since.
More than 20 partygoers witnessed the brutal slaying of Mark Denton and many had to receive counselling from Victim Support workers.
Some revellers who saw the murder took to the witness box to describe what they saw.
Victim Support has been on hand throughout the trial to offer advice to the witnesses, and staff will continue counselling anyone who needs it now the trial has finished.
A statement said: “Victim Support has been providing support to Witnesses at the Mark Denton murder trial.”
Lorna Hilton, victim services officer, and a team of volunteers from both Victim Support and the Witness Service have been providing support to witnesses both before and during the trial.
Hundreds of people have paid their respected since that fateful night.
From the early days in January, friends went to the house in Hutton Avenue to lay flowers in Mark’s memory and as the flowers piled up, an online tribute page set up on Facebook saw hundreds of messages posted.
People shared memories and photographs, for others it was an outlet to express their grief.
For anyone who doubted Mark’s popularity, a visit to the RIP Mark Denton page would have put them right.
It was on that page that a fundraising idea was created, where people could donate cash to help his grieving family fund the expense of the funeral.
The money poured in, some people handed over a fiver, others stumped up £100 and more.
The Headland venue had been the scene of some of Mark’s best nights as a young boxer.
He was King of the Ring, and bright things were predicted of him.
After the service, many took to the stage in the grand old building to pay a unique tribute.
Rave music blasted out, people took to the mic and raised their glasses.
The drinks flowed, and they threw some shapes on the dancefloor as a picture of Mark looked on from the stage.
He’d had the Borough Hall rocking in the past, so it was somewhat fitting he did it one last time.