A MURDER trial over the brutal killing of popular amateur boxer Mark Denton is set to get underway this week.
Two town men are due to stand trial at Teesside Crown Court accused of attacking Mark, 31, with an ice axe at a New Year’s Eve party in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool.
The case against Anthony Middleton, 21, and David Sowerby, 23, is expected to last at least two weeks as numerous witnesses, including revellers who were at the party, will be called to give evidence.
The trial will begin on Wednesday with the swearing in of a jury.
The barrister for the prosecution will then read an outline of the allegations against the defendants before starting to call witnesses.
It will be the first time that friends and family of Mark will see his alleged killers close up.
On all previous court appearances, the defendants have appeared only on videolink from prison where they have been held on remand since they were charged.
The killing on December 31 caused widespread shock and sorrow in Hartlepool.
Mark, who lived in Granville Avenue, Hartlepool, had sent a text to his parents Ann and Brian to wish them a happy New Year just minutes before he died.
His family said they were “devastated and heartbroken” by his death.
They added: “Our hearts will never heal from the loss of Mark, he was a larger than life character and our loss is immeasurable”.
Hundreds of people paid tribute when they attended Mark’s funeral at the Borough Hall, on the Headland.
The venue had witnessed some magical nights in the ring for the talented boxer.
Middleweight Mark won 31 of his 48 fights as an amateur before briefly turning professional, winning his one and only bout.
Middleton, of Bruntoft Avenue, and Sowerby, of Allerton Close, both Hartlepool, both deny murder.