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24 June 2014, 18:33
Two brothers have been found guilty of murdering Hartlepool boxer Mark Denton at a New Year's Eve party
24 year old David Sowerby and his half-brother Anthony Middleton, who's 21, were found guilty of murdering Mark Denton.
He was killed at a party at Hutton Avenue in Hartlepool on New Year's Eve in 2013.
It took the jury at Teesside Crown Court just over an hour to reach a unanimous guilty verdict.
In a statement Mark Denton's family said:
"I look at them and I can't believe two young lads like that could do it. I just want to ask them why?
Even if they'd just wanted to hurt him, but why kill? I just wish they'd killed me instead of Mark."
Detective Chief Inspector Anne-Marie Salwey from Cleveland Police said:
"In my career as a detective I have never know such a brutal and horrific murder, and one that was played out in front of so many innocent witnesses. It has had a devastating effect on his family who feel utterly broken and lost without him.
Many of the people who witnessed this senseless murder and those who came to Mark's aid are still traumatised by what they had to endure and will need continued support.
Sowerby and Middleton have shown no remorse for the cold blooded murder of Mark and have put his family and friends through the ordeal of going to trial. The courage and bravery of Mark's family and friends to stand up and be heard has been key to the investigation and significant in the conviction of Sowerby and Middleton, who now face a long time behind bars where they belong.
This case highlights the destructive effect where weapons are used and the police will continue to seek prosecution for anyone found to be carrying weapons unlawfully."
The jury heard that Mr Denton and Sowerby had had an argument over a woman last October.
Mr Denton had knocked Sowerby to the ground and Sowerby had held a grudge.
Part of the confrontation was videoed and Sowerby, who was seen running away, had shouted he would shoot Mr Denton.
Middleton, of Bruntoft Avenue, had ordered a camping axe on the internet and took it along to the party.
Sowerby attacked Mr Denton within minutes of his victim going to the party at about 10pm.
One witness said he hit Mr Denton with the axe so hard it was an effort to remove it from his skull.
Mr Denton was taken to hospital, but his injuries were so severe he didn't survive.
The pair handed themselves in to police at about 2pm on New Year's Day.
Both Hartlepool men were sentenced to life imprisonment - Sowerby must serve a minimum of 25 years and Middleton 23 years.