‘I never meant to kill him’ says Hartlepool man accused of Mark Dixon manslaughter

MARK DIXON: Struck his head on the pavement after being punched and died six days later.
MARK DIXON: Struck his head on the pavement after being punched and died six days later.

A REVELLER said he never meant to kill a dad who confronted him about a suggestive remark while on a night out.

Paul Sutton is standing trial for the manslaughter of stranger Mark Dixon, who he assaulted on a night out in Hartlepool.

I could see the anger in his face. He was coming at me. It was 10 seconds, I didn’t have time to think of anything or say sorry. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.

Paul Sutton, accused of manslaughter

Giving evidence, Sutton, 29, told the jury at Teesside Crown Court that he felt intimidated and believed Mr Dixon was going to punch him after he confronted him over a remark he’d made towards his friend Cheryl Bell.

Mr Dixon, 32, took offence to Sutton shouting ‘gee up’ towards Miss Bell as they passed each other on Victoria Road, in the early hours of Sunday, October 5.

Sutton claimed Mr Dixon pushed past his friend Keith Long, so he punched him, knocking him to the ground, before leaving the area.

Mr Dixon was knocked unconscious and hit his head on the pavement. He suffered brain injuries and died in hospital six days later.

Sutton admitted acting boisterously in the minutes before the assault and flirting with girls.

Sutton said the comment ‘gee up’ was meant to signal to his friend he thought Miss Bell was attractive.

John Elvidge QC, defending, asked Sutton: “Did you intend to cause offence?”

He said: “No. It was just daft lads’ banter.”

Mr Elvidge said: “When was it you decided to punch him?”

Sutton said: “When he pushed past Keith.”

Mr Elvidge asked him: “Did you calculate how hard you might hit him, what might happen to him or anything like that?”

Sutton replied: “No, definitely not. I didn’t have time to calculate anything.”

He said he walked away from the scene and went home to Raby Gardens, Hartlepool, because he did not realise how serious the consequences were.

“I honestly thought he would have got up,” he said.

Demolition worker Sutton, who was taught boxing when he was a teenager, claimed he tried to reason with Mr Dixon by swearing at him in a bid to get him to go away.

Under cross-examination, Sutton accepted in hindsight that he could have walked away.

Prosecutor Tim Roberts QC suggested Sutton could also have said sorry for the remark.

Sutton said: “Yeah, but it wouldn’t have made any difference. I could see the anger in his face. He was coming at me.

“It was 10 seconds, I didn’t have time to think of anything or say sorry.

“I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”

Sutton agreed with Mr Roberts that Mr Dixon did not deserve to be hit as hard as he was, but maintained he felt threatened.

He said: “He pushed past my friend. I felt intimidated. I thought he was going to hit me.”

Sutton accepted Mr Dixon did not have his fists clenched or draw back his arm, but said he did move close to him.

“I just flung a punch out of reaction in the heat of the moment,” he said.

He denied becoming irritated by Mr Dixon or saying words to the effect that he had had enough just before throwing the punch.

Sutton also denied claims from a taxi driver that he had walked off laughing.

His friend Mr Long said he stepped in between Sutton and Mr Dixon to try to calm the situation down.

Mr Long said: “He (Mr Dixon) was just angry, fuming. He was looking straight through me at Paul.”

He added: “He was intimidating. Paul acted in self-defence.”

Sutton, now of Fordham Road, Sunderland, denies manslaughter.

The prosecution and defence barristers will make their closing speeches to the jury and the judge will sum up the case on Tuesday.