Mark Denton murder trial: Court hears of alleged killer’s drink and drug binge

Police at the house in Hutton Avenue where Mark Denton suffered fatal injuries
Police at the house in Hutton Avenue where Mark Denton suffered fatal injuries

A MAN accused of murder spent the afternoon before the fatal attack on a drug and drink binge, a court heard.

David Sowerby is said to have downed 14 Jagerbomb shots in around half an hour and to have snorted cocaine hours before he allegedly murdered popular former boxer Mark Denton with his brother Anthony Middleton.

KILLED: Mark Denton

KILLED: Mark Denton

The jury in the murder trial were told details of Middleton and Sowerby’s movements in the hours up to the New Year’s Eve party in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool, where Mark was brutally attacked.

Jamie Gascoigne, who went to the party with Sowerby and Middleton, told how he sold Middleton, 21, a motorbike for £1,800 before the three of them went to King Johns Tavern in Hartlepool town centre.

They left when Sowerby, who had been having a noisy row with his girlfriend on his mobile phone, was asked to leave.

Mr Gasgoigne said they then went to Yates’s where in around half an hour Sowerby sank around 14 strong shots mixed with an energy drink.

They left when staff refused to serve Sowerby, 24, any more alcohol and they went to Changes bar on York Road.

Mr Gascoigne said: “He just wanted to get out of it because it was New Year’s Eve.”

He said Middleton and Sowerby had taken sleeping pills earlier that day and cocaine later that afternoon.

All three attended the party in Hutton Avenue at around 6pm.

A short while later he described how Middleton flashed an axe, which he said he had seen at Middleton’s flat around two weeks earlier, to Mr Gascoigne’s cousin Scott Hall, when he tried to get a drink off Middleton.

“He pulled back his jacket and had the axe in his belt,” Mr Gascoigne told the jury.

Mr Gascoigne also told how the axe was shown to the party’s organiser, Dean Shadforth, earlier in the evening.

Mr Gascoigne described how he wished Mark Denton a happy new year when he arrived later.

He said Mark was sober and in a happy mood.

But he then told how the music suddenly went off and he saw a scuffle break out involving Mark, Middleton and Sowerby.

Jamie Hill QC, prosecuting, asked: “What did you see?”

Mr Gascoigne said: “Mark was lying back on the couch and David (Sowerby) was standing over him with an axe.

“He was attacking him with it. I tried to pull him off and get the axe off him.”

Mr Gascoigne said Sowerby dropped the axe and it was picked up by Middleton, but said he did not see him do anything with it.

He denied a suggestion by Tim Roberts QC, defending Middleton, that he had taken the axe to the party to show tree surgeon Mr Shadforth.

Mr Gascoigne said: “No it was Anthony Middleton who took the axe to the party.”

He also told the court how he had seen two axes at Middleton’s house in Bruntoft Avenue around two weeks before New Year’s Eve and also some swords on his mantlepiece.

“He showed me them and said he got them off eBay,” said Mr Gascoigne.

The jury also heard from another eye witness to the attack on Mark.

Scott Hall, a cousin of Jamie Gascoigne, told the court he saw Middleton striking Mark with the weapon during the violence.

He described how he returned from going to the toilet to see lots of people running out the room screaming.

Mr Hall said: “Mark was on his knees with his head under Anthony’s arm. I saw him moving his arm with the axe into his back.”

He said Middleton struck Mark three or four times.

Mr Roberts suggested Mr Hall wrongly assumed it was Middleton using the axe because he had seen him holding it earlier in the night.

But Mr Hall said: “I saw him (Middleton) with it. I know what I saw.”

He said he had no memory of seeing Sowerby during that time.

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Previous reports from the murder trial:

Girlfriend’s tears as she says former boxer was ‘full of cuddles’

DJ says he watched Mark ‘fight for his life’

Accused walked “calmly” away “covered in blood”

Dead man’s brother gives evidence

”Shocking and brutal” attack after row over woman

Brave mum’s tears as she hears of horrific injuries

Murder trial begins