'Benefits Street' man admits Stockton street murder

Lee Cooper Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Lee Cooper was stripped, slashed, beaten and stamped on during the attack

A man who appeared in the Channel 4 programme Benefits Street has admitted murdering a man in a brutal attack.

Lee Cooper, 43, was stripped, slashed, beaten and left dying in a street in Stockton-on-Tees in December.

Neil Maxwell, 40, of Lytton Court, North Ormesby, had previously admitted manslaughter, but changed his plea to murder at Teesside Crown Court.

A second man, 19-year-old Luke Pearson, has admitted manslaughter and his trial for murder, which he denies, continues.

Maxwell, who will be sentenced at the conclusion of the trial, appeared in the second series of the reality show in 2015, which focussed on Kingston Road in Stockton.

He was shown taking drugs and was later jailed for assaulting a woman.

Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Neil Maxwell will be sentenced at a later date

The court had previously heard the attack on Mr Cooper, which was the result of a "simmering feud", involved a hammer, a Stanley knife, a knuckle duster and TV stand.

He was found near his home in Westbourne Street with more than 100 injuries and died in hospital.

Mr Pearson, of Westbourne Street, Stockton, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

A forensic psychiatrist told the court he suffered from hallucinations and psychosis and had attempted to take his own life on a number of occasions.

But Nick Dry, for the prosecution, accused Mr Pearson ''of playing the mental health card", and said he had taken part in a "grave, gruesome and grotesque act".

The trial continues.

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