Family and friends of tragic dad Mark Dixon have marked the first anniversary of his death by laying flowers and tributes at the spot where he was viciously attacked.
Much-loved Mark, aged 32, died in hospital after he was punched in the head by a drunken reveller on Victoria Road, in Hartlepool town centre.
The devoted father and family man had been enjoying a night out after attending a wedding earlier but never got to see his wife Lorraine and young daughter Ella again.
Mark, of Peterlee, died six days later on October 11 having never regained consciousness.
His family and friends laid flowers, poems and a picture of Mark at the scene on the anniversary of the attack last week and again on Sunday.
His close family also attended his graveside in Pittington Cemetery on the anniversary of his death.
Mark’s cousin Gary Horton said: “A few family members went to the scene and laid flowers. The anniversary has been a hard time for us as a family, it has been a really hard year.
“Mark was so well loved and will never be forgotten.
“The family had a get together on his anniversary.”
A poem left among flowers on Victoria Road by Mark’s mam Angela Horton included the poignant lines: “You were my pride and joy – you were such a dear son,” and “The loss is so hard to bear each time I remember you’re not here.”
Mark’s wife Lorraine told how devastated she and six-year-old Ella were in a victim impact statement after Mark’s attacker Paul Sutton, 29, was jailed in May.
She said of Mark and Ella’s relationship: “They both idolised each other and were inseparable. Mark wasn’t just her daddy, he was her best friend.
“Ella is totally devastated without him as am I. The hardest thing I have ever done was when we were in hospital and I had to tell my six-year-old daughter her daddy won’t be getting any better and it was time to say goodbye.
“We, as a family, had so many plans, hopes and dreams, these have now been taken from us.
“We were a very close family, now there is a part of our family missing from our lives forever.
“We will never get over the death of my loving husband and Ella’s devoted daddy.”
Sutton, of Raby Gardens, Hartlepool, was jailed for six years after a jury found him guilty of Mark’s manslaughter.
Sutton floored Mark with a single unprovoked punch after Mark questioned Sutton about a remark he made towards a friend of Mark’s when they walked past each other.
The judge said Mark, who worked for Britton Decoflex, on Hartlepool’s Oaksway Trading Estate, had been robbed of his life “for nothing”.
In May, Gary helped to organise a memorial football match in Mark’s name which is expected to become an annual event after being a huge success.
‘Please respect his memory’
Mark Dixon’s family have asked people to show more respect for his memory after flowers were taken or tampered with.
In recent weeks floral tributes at the place Mark was fatally attacked have gone missing from vases fixed to the wall or thrown on the floor, said cousin Gary Horton.
Gary believes drunken revellers who do not understand the significance of the tributes may be to blame.
Mark’s family are asking people to respect the tributes especially around the first anniversary of his death.
Gary said: “It hurts because it is heartbreaking to the family.
“They are grieving and are going through enough already so to have something like this happen is not nice. I can’t get my head around why somebody would want to do something like that.
“It could be that people do it when they leave the pubs and don’t understand what they are there for.
“Mark’s nana Vera Dixon puts flowers there every week. But there are times when they have been taken from he vases or scattered on the floor.”