‘Daddy’s not coming home,’ family of Hartlepool attack victim tell his six-year-old girl

'Me and my princess x' - a touching picture of Mark Dixon and his daughter is released as part of a re-appeal for witnesses to the assault which would eventually claim his life.
'Me and my princess x' - a touching picture of Mark Dixon and his daughter is released as part of a re-appeal for witnesses to the assault which would eventually claim his life.

ATTACK victim Mark Dixon’s daughter still believes her daddy will come home, his devastated family revealed as his killer was found guilty of manslaughter.

Much-loved family man Mark was robbed of his life after drunken Paul Sutton punched him in an unprovoked attack in Hartlepool town centre.

They were so close they did everything together

Frank Wright – Mark Dixon’s father-in-law

In a heartbreaking statement, Mark’s brave family said they have to remind his six-year-old girl Ella every day that he is not coming home.

They spoke moments after demolition worker Sutton was found guilty of Mark’s manslaughter after a week-long trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Mark’s father-in-law, Frank Wright, said: “Mark wasn’t just her daddy he was Ella’s best friend, they were so close they did everything together and Mark devoted all his time to her.

“Since Mark has passed away Ella has been inconsolable. She still believes her daddy is coming back and I have to remind her everyday when she wakes that he isn’t.”

There were loud cries of ‘yes’ from Mark’s family and friends in the public gallery, including his widow Loraine, as the jury returned their unanimous verdict.

Sentencing was adjourned but Sutton, 29, has been warned he is facing a lengthy prison sentence.

Mark, 32, who lived in Peterlee, had been looking for a taxi with a work friend at the end of a night out on Sunday, October 5.

Just hours earlier he had attended his friends’ wedding party before continuing the celebrations in the town centre.

But he was knocked unconscious by Sutton, who had boxed as a teenager, after Mark challenged Sutton about a remark he made to a his friend Cheryl Bell when they passed each other on Victoria Road.

Witnesses described how Mark, who worked at Britton Decoflex, on Hartlepool’s Oaksway Trading Estate, fell ‘like a tree’ by the vicious blow which instantly knocked him unconscious.

He smashed his head on the pavement and suffered brain injuries and died in hospital five days later having never regained consciousness.

Sutton, formerly of Raby Gardens, Hartlepool, claimed he had acted in self defence believing Mark was about to attack him.

But independent witnesses told how Mark was relaxed, had offered no violence, and had his hands by his side at the time he was suddenly attacked.

As Mark lay unconscious in the road, Sutton walked calmly home and texted girls he had got the numbers of earlier that night.

It emerged during the trial that Sutton pleaded guilty to assaulting a doorman in Hartlepool town centre in November 2008.

He had swung at the doorman three times before punching him in the eye as he tried to intervene in an argument Sutton was having in the street with his girlfriend.

And in 2006, he accepted a police caution for punching another stranger in the face after the victim challenged Sutton about jumping the queue for the toilet at a Butlins holiday camp.

Sentencing was adjourned to a date to be fixed for reports to decide if Sutton, who has twice attacked strangers for no reason, is a danger to the public and could result in a longer spell behind bars.

John Elvidge QC, defending Sutton, now of Fordham Road, Sunderland, said: “He understands what the sentence is going to be, it’s a question of length.”

Remanding Sutton in custody, Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing said: “I think in the circumstances of this case I would be failing in my duty to the public if I didn’t commission such a report and take that into account.”