Mark Denton murder trial: 17 axe wounds in ‘shocking and brutal’ attack after row over woman

KILLED: Mark Denton
KILLED: Mark Denton

AMATEUR boxer Mark Denton suffered 17 axe wounds in a brutal revenge attack over a woman, a murder trial heard.

Prosecutors say David Sowerby and Anthony Middleton launched the shocking armed attack within minutes of Mark, 31, arriving at a New Year’s Eve house party in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool.

It is thought the attack was in response to a run-in Sowerby had with Mark over a woman at another house party in Wensleydale Street in October when Mark knocked Sowerby out.

Prosecutor Jamie Hill QC said: “This incident had two consequences; firstly it left David Sowerby with a burning sense of grievance, and secondly he knew he could never compete with Mark Denton in a fair fight.

“The prosecution says that David Sowerby now had revenge in mind.”

The trial, which started at Teesside Crown Court yesterday, heard that Mark took exception to Sowerby’s advances towards the girl and during an argument Sowerby, 24, threatened to get a shotgun and shoot Mark.

The jury was told that in early December, Sowerby’s half brother Middleton, 21, ordered a camping axe off eBay which was delivered to his home in Bruntoft Avenue, in West View, Hartlepool.

Three days later he ordered a heavier Sabre Cut camp axe, which the prosecution say was the murder weapon.

The jury heard the day before the attack Sowerby updated his Facebook status with the threatening message: “Al crack your skull open nd guess what by the time I’m coming out of jail hopefully you’ll be coming out of ya comer cos I’ll crack your skull open again see that’s the difference between me and you I’m stupid that’s what I do ellish.”

The prosecution claim he was bragging about what he was going to do.

Mr Hill said there were no indications that Mark, who briefly boxed professionally, was looking for or expecting trouble when he went to the party, on New Year’s Eve.

Sowerby and Middleton, who were said to have taken drugs and been drinking, had already arrived.

There was said to have been “an immediate reaction” by the defendants and Sowerby is alleged to have launched into a vicious attack on Mark, striking him to the head, neck and body with the large axe within four minutes of Mark arriving with his girlfriend Sarah Kinnie.

Mr Hill said: “What happened was shocking and brutal. Despite the overwhelming injuries being inflicted, Mark Denton tried to fight back, throwing punches.

“At that stage Anthony Middleton joined in and Sowerby wrestled Mark to the ground or onto a nearby sofa.

“Middleton was either given the axe by Sowerby or took it from him and proceeded to deliver multiple blows to Mark’s back.”

Some party-goers tried to intervene but it was too late. Mark suffered 55 separate injuries and died as a result of massive blood loss after an artery in his right bicep was severed.

Despite attempts to give him first aid at the scene he was pronounced dead shortly after he was rushed to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough.

Prosecutors say the vicious attack was seen by numerous shocked party-goers, many of whom fled the house in horror and fear.

Middleton and Sowerby are said to have left by the back door and threatened a party-goer to drive them to Middleton’s home.

During the journey, they are said to have been “buzzing” and in a triumphant mood.

Sowerby is alleged to have said: “I told you I would use the axe,” to which Middleton is alleged to have said: “I know, we done him there.”

Sowerby is also alleged to have said: “We’ll put our clothes in the wash, get a bath, get changed and go down town drinking. We’ll hide the tool.”

At Middleton’s house, it is claimed they tried to burn one set of clothing and washed another.

The prosecution say they disposed of the axe, probably on waste land, and it has never been found.

But the court heard receipts and packaging for the two axes were found in a wheelie bin at the address.

Sowerby and Middleton went voluntarily to Hartlepool Police Station the following day after hearing police wanted to speak to them.

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

The trial, expected to last two weeks, continues.