THE brother of axe-attack victim Mark Denton has conceded at a murder trial that his brother collected drug debts.
Craig Denton accepted the suggestion while under cross-examination on the second day of the case against two men accused of Mark’s brutal killing.
Details of Mark’s criminal record have also emerged while Craig was giving evidence at Teesside Crown Court.
Mark was given a suspended sentence in December 2011 for fracturing a man’s jaw.
Craig insisted Mark was punched first by Michael Ryan who “came off worst”.
Mark was later jailed for possessing drugs, theft and criminal damage and was released in March last year.
Craig also described Mark as an “outgoing” person who loved karate and boxing.
He added that people wanted to fight his brother because of his reputation as a former amateur boxer.
Cross-examined by John Elvidge, who is defending co-accused David Sowerby, Craig accepted that Mark would fight people outside the ring and “wouldn’t back down from anyone”.
Half-brothers Sowerby and Anthony Middleton are said to have used a Sabre Cut camp axe to attack 31-year-old Mark at a party in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool, on New Year’s Eve.
The first day of the trial heard how Mark, of Granville Avenue, Hartlepool, suffered 17 wounds in a brutal revenge attack over a woman.
Jurors were told the dispute at a house in the town’s Wensleydale Street ended when Mark “laid out” Sowerby.
Craig told the jury on day two how he had seen mobile phone footage of a row involving Sowerby and Mark at the party the previous two months earlier.
He also conceded that Mark sometimes took drugs and drank.
Sowerby, 24, of Allerton Close, and Middleton, 21, of Bruntoft Avenue, both Hartlepool, deny murder.
The trial, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.
Earlier updates from the trial include: