Mark Denton murder trial: DJ says he watched Mark ‘fight for his life’

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

THE DJ at the house party where former boxer Mark Denton was killed told a trial of the moment two partygoers brutally attacked him with an axe.

Steven Connolly told Teesside Crown Court that tragic Mark, 31, “fought for his life” after he was set upon by Anthony Middleton and David Sowerby.

Giving evidence yesterday Mr Connolly said he saw Sowerby, 24, strike Mark around 13 times with the vicious weapon.

Mr Connolly said the incident started after he saw Middleton, 21, apparently looking for trouble when he spoke to another partygoer and said: “Your’e not Mark.”

He said Mark Denton stepped in between them and Middleton punched Mark, who did not flinch despite the blow.

Describing what happened next, Mr Connolly said: “David (Sowerby) struck him with the axe.

“He didn’t give him warning or anything.”

He told Jamie Hill QC, prosecuting, that Sowerby struck Mark around 13 times to his head, chest and also on his back.

Despite the onslaught Mr Connolly told the jury: “He fought for his life, he wouldn’t go down”.

Mr Connolly said Sowerby dropped the axe after Mark landed a punch on his attacker.

When questioned about Middleton’s role in the moments after the axe was dropped, he added: “He picked up the axe from the floor and started attacking Mark across the back with it.”

He estimated he struck Mark around four times with it.

Mr Connolly added: “He was getting weaker and weaker, they were gaining more advantage over him.”

He said both defendants continued to punch Mark when he was eventually on the floor.

A number of the party guests then tried to intervene and help Mark from the attack, the jury heard.

Mr Connolly described Mark as a friend who hated bullies and who had helped him out on a previous occasion by speaking to someone on his behalf.

He denied a suggestion by Tim Roberts QC, defending Middleton, that his account had been affected by widespread talk of Mark’s death on social media and in the press at the time.

Mr Connolly said: “What I’ve told you is all true.

“It’s what I can remember.”

Earlier updates from the trial include:

Girlfriend gives evidence

Accused walked “calmly” away “covered in blood”

Mark Denton’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