Attacker ‘went off laughing’ after delivering fatal blow to Hartlepool dad, court hears

MARK DIXON: The devoted dad died after being attacked at the end of a night out in Hartlepool.
MARK DIXON: The devoted dad died after being attacked at the end of a night out in Hartlepool.

A REVELLER who delivered a fatal blow to a stranger enjoying a night out in Hartlepool who later died calmly walked off laughing afterwards, a jury heard.

Tragic dad Mark Dixon, 32, was knocked unconscious and hit the back of his head on the pavement after he was struck in the head by Paul Sutton, Teesside Crown Court has heard.

He didn’t give much regard to what had happened or the whole scene, he just walked off.

Philip Moon

The trial of Sutton, who is accused of the manslaughter of Mr Dixon, heard from several people who witnessed the assault which happened at around 4am in Victoria Road, on Sunday, October 5.

Philip Moon, who had been out with a friend, described seeing Mr Dixon fall “like a tree” after he was hit by a “brutal” punch.

Taxi driver Andrew Sutherland, who was working that night, told the jury Mr Dixon, from Peterlee, was hit by a “sucker punch” and that he “didn’t stand a chance” of defending himself.

The trial earlier heard that Mr Dixon approached Sutton and another man, who he believed had made some comment towards friend and work colleague Cheryl Bell as they passed each other while looking for a taxi.

Mr Moon, who was walking up Victoria Road, said he saw Sutton, 29, throw a punch which hit Mr Dixon.

“It was a strong punch,” he said.

Asked by prosecutor Tim Roberts QC how Mr Dixon fell, Mr Moon said: “I would describe it like a tree. There was no attempt to stop himself.”

Mr Moon added Sutton walked away afterwards adding: “He didn’t give much regard to what had happened or the whole scene, he just walked off.”

Asked what sort of manner Sutton walked away Mr Moon said: “Nonchalant.”

He added he went over to try to help, but believed at first Mr Dixon was dead.

Mr Roberts added: “How would you describe the punch you saw?”

Mr Moon said: “An unnecessary act of violence. It was brutal.”

He said Mr Dixon’s arms were down by his side at the time.

Mr Moon said he heard someone say something along the lines of “I’ve had enough of this” just before Mr Dixon was hit.

But under cross examination he admitted he could not be sure who said it or the exact words used.

Hackney cab driver Mr Sutherland said he saw the incident while he was parked on the other side of the road as he picked up a fare.

He said: “It was a sucker punch. He didn’t have a chance to defend himself.”

Mr Sutherland said Mr Dixon was stood talking to a woman just before he was hit and claimed he was hit from behind.

Asked what Mr Dixon’s body language was like he said: “Generally relaxed, just casual like he didn’t have a care in the world.”

Mr Sutherland added: “As they walked away the two of them were laughing as they walked round the corner.”

The trial previously heard from Cheryl Bell who was with Mr Dixon when he was struck.

She previously said Mr Dixon’s hands were in his pockets just before he was assaulted.

But under cross examination yesterday she said she could not be sure if that was the case.

Miss Bell added:”But I know he wasn’t waving his fists about.”

John Elvidge QC, defending, put it to her there was no need for Mr Dixon to have gone over to Sutton and his friend and suggested that Mr Dixon had lost his temper.

Miss Bell said: “You can suggest it but I don’t believe he did.”

She agreed with Mr Elvidge she thought the incident could have escalated into violence and that she tried to tell Mr Dixon to leave it by tugging at his arm.

But Miss Bell said her fears were based on the fact there were two men and maintained Mr Dixon did not approach them in an aggressive way.

Mr Dixon was rushed to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, but died of brain injuries six days later on October 11.

Pathologist Dr Mark Egan told the trial Mr Dixon was struck around the area of his left eye and nose causing black eyes but no bone injuries.

Dr Egan said medium force would have caused the injuries.

But Mr Dixon suffered a depressed fracture to the back of his head and bleeding and swelling to his brain from hitting it on the pavement.

Mr Elvidge said: “Were it not for the fact that Mr Dixon tragically hit his head on the ground he would have survived this blow easily?”

Dr Egan said: “Almost certainly, yes.”

Sutton, of Fordham Road, Sunderland, and formerly Hartlepool, denies manslaughter.

The trial continues.