Mark Denton murder: Pair get life sentences for axe attack
Two half-brothers have been jailed for life for murdering an amateur boxer with an axe at a New Year's Eve party.
Mark Denton, a promising middleweight when he was younger, was attacked with an axe in front of onlookers at a house in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool.
The 31-year-old suffered 55 separate injuries as the pair took it in turns to hack at him, and died in hospital.
David Sowerby, 24, and Anthony Middleton, 21, denied murder but were found guilty at Teesside Crown Court.
Both received a life sentence, with Sowerby to serve a minimum of 27 years in prison and Middleton to serve at least 23.
The trial heard that Sowerby, of Allerton Close, Hartlepool, had a grievance against Mr Denton following an argument a few months' earlier.
Along with Middleton, of Bruntoft Avenue, he set upon Mr Denton, who at one point was left with an axe embedded in his skull.
Afterwards, the pair washed and burnt their clothes and disposed of the axe on wasteland, before handing themselves in to the police the next day.
The court was told that a number of those who were at the party and witnessed the murder had to receive counselling.
Mr Denton's parents, Ann and Brian Denton, said the outcome of the trial would not bring their son back, but did provide "some justice" for him.
They said in a statement: "We wake up on a morning thinking we have had the worst nightmare possible, until we realise that it's actually real and Mark is gone.
"They have not only killed Mark, but killed us both inside"
They described Mr Denton as a "big softy" and a "good lad at heart".
Det Ch Insp Anne-Marie Salwey from Cleveland Police said: "In my career as a detective I have never known such a brutal and horrific murder, and one that was played out in front of so many innocent witnesses."
She described the murder as "cold-blooded" and said Sowerby and Middleton had shown no remorse for their crime.