Hartlepool murder accused says he killed Mark Denton in self-defence

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A MURDER accused admitted killing Mark Denton in a frenzied axe attack after the boxer went for him with a knife, a court heard.

Anthony Midleton, 21, claimed Mark tried to stab him with a breadknife after he tried to break up a “scuffle” with Middleton’s brother at a New Year’s Eve house party in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool.

Middleton said he reached out and grabbed an axe which he used to strike Mark around half a dozen times.

The trial jury also heard that Mark had a cocktail of drugs in his system including cocaine, ecstasy and valium.

After handing himself into police Middleton admitted taking cocaine and also had anti-depressant diazepam in his system, while Sowerby had cocaine, cannabis and diazepam in his system.

A transcript of Middleton’s police interviews were read out at Teesside Crown Court.

DC Mark Earl asked him: “Are you responsible for the murder of Mark Denton?”

Middleton said: “Yeah, I’m responsible, but I acted in self defence. I only done it because I had no choice.”

Middleton told the officer he had never met Mark before New Year’s Eve, but knew of him.

He claimed a scuffle broke out with his brother Sowerby and he tried to pull Mark off.

Middleton said Mark “then turned his attention to me.”

He claimed Mark pinned him down on to a couch and tried to stab him with a breadknife.

Middleton told police: “He was trying to get at my throat. I just grabbed something off the floor and hit him with it and he started raging coming back at me.”

When asked what he had picked up off the floor he said: “I don’t know what it was, an axe or something.”

He claimed he had never seen the weapon before but said Mark continued to try use the knife on him.

Middleton claimed he used the axe around half a dozen times on Mark until he fell to the ground and he ran from the house.

The trial has previously heard from witnesses who said they saw Sowerby and Middleton strike Mark with the axe.

He suffered 55 separate injuries to his head, body and arms, including 17 wounds attributed to the use of an axe.

Middleton said he and Sowerby got in a car outside after someone shouted “jump in” and took them to near his flat in Bruntoft Avenue.

Middleton said he washed his face, but refused to answer police’s questions about what he had done with his clothes.

Sowerby, 24, refused to answer all of police’s questions in three separate interviews and just said “no comment” throughout.

The court heard that defendants Sowerby and Middleton, and victim Mark Denton, had each recently taken various drugs as well as alcohol.

Toxicologist Emma Edwards said tests carried out on Mark showed he had a high level of cocaine in his body which had probably been taken a few hour before his death.

There was also low levels of the drug MDMA (ecstasy) and valium but Ms Edwards said they had probably been taken some time ago as they remained in the body for some time.

Mark was under the drink-drive limit for alcohol.

Samples were not taken from Sowerby and Middleton until almost 24 hours later when they went to Hartlepool Police Station.

Sowerby, who had downed around a dozen Jaegerbomb spirit mixers, earlier on New Year’s Eve, had alcohol, cocaine, cannabis and an anti-depressant in his system.

Middleton, who admitted taking cocaine at the party, also had the anti-depressant diazepam in his system.

Ms Edwards said it was at a level which suggested he used it on a regular basis.

Middleton, of Bruntoft Avenue, and Sowerby, of Allerton Close, both Hartlepool, deny murder.

The trial continues.