Mark Denton murder trial: Murder accused tells jury he lied to police

Mark Denton
Mark Denton

A MURDER accused says he told a pack of lies to police about killing boxer Mark Denton because he wanted to take the blame for his brother.

Anthony Middleton, 21, had confessed to police to being responsible for the axe murder of Mark, 31, at a house party in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool, on New Year’s Eve.

He told police he acted in self defence after alleging Mark tried to stab him with a foot-long breadknife.

But giving evidence at Teesside Crown Court he claimed he had lied to prevent his half brother, co-accused David Sowerby from going to jail.

When asked by his defending barrister Tim Roberts QC to explain his confession, Middleton said: “I had a story in my head I was going to take the blame for my brother.

“I didn’t want him to go to jail. I was just thinking about his kids, my nephews.”

Middleton told the jury there was no truth in his previous claim to police that Mark had attacked him with a breadknife and he picked up an axe and hit Mark with it.

He also said he lied to police about the jacket he was wearing to put himself in Sowerby’s position.

Middleton told the court a “scuffle” broke out at the party between Sowerby, 24, and Mark Denton, who he said he did not know or recognise.

“They were wrestling with the axe trying to get control of it,” he said.

He said he tried to pull Sowerby off and that Mark started to punch him.

Middleton said he punched Mark several times to the ribs before leaving the house and getting in another man’s car with Sowerby.

He said witness accounts that Middleton attacked Mark after picking up or being passed the axe were “all lies.”

He also denied saying “we done him there” to Sowerby when they were being driven back to Middleton’s flat afterwards.

Middleton admitted washing his clothes and burning Sowerby’s blood-stained clothes to protect him.

Mr Roberts said: “Did you at any stage strike Mark Denton in that party room with an axe?”

Middleton replied: “No, at no stage.”

Mr Roberts added: “Did you at any stage agree with your brother to launch a joint attack on Mark Denton?”

Middleton said: “I didn’t know Mark Denton and I wouldn’t do anything like that anyway.”

He earlier told the jury he had bought the Sabre Cut axe off the internet as he went on overnight fishing trips when he camped out.

“I bought it because it would come in handy for chopping pieces of wood for fire,” he said.

Middleton said he had planned to stay in on New Year’s Eve night and play poker on the internet after earlier buying a motorbike from Jamie Gascoigne.

But he said Sowerby and Mr Gascoigne heard about the party in Hutton Avenue and Middleton did not want Sowerby to go without him as he was in a drunken state.

He had downed around a dozen shots earlier that afternoon in a town centre pub.

Middleton said Mr Gascoigne took the axe to the party to show the host Dean Shadforth who is a tree surgeon.

He told the jury he put the axe down the side of a two-seater sofa in the party room after he saw someone playing with it.

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

The trial continues.