THE long-term girlfriend of a boxer axed to death at a New Year’s Eve house party recalled the moment she saw him being hacked to the ground.

Sarah Kinnie testified at the trial of half-brothers David Sowerby and Anthony Middleton who are accused of murdering Hartlepool amateur boxer Mark Denton.

Miss Kinnie, who broke down several times, told Teesside Crown Court how the couple arrived at the rave party in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool, shortly after 10pm and she began chatting to a friend.

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“I turned back and could see Mark’s shirt start to turn red," she said. “There was a scuffle, I could see Dayday (Mr Sowerby) on the right side of Mark.

"He had an axe in his hand...Mark had his back to me but his body was getting knocked back. It was being jilted back with the blows.

"Aggie (Mr Middleton) started to punch Mark on the side...Mark was on the floor, covered in blood.”

Miss Kinnie told how she landed three or four punches on Mr Middleton to try and stop the attack and knelt next to her partner as the pair fled.

“I had hold of him, saying, ‘you’re all right, you’re all right.’ He had an axe wound down his face, it was completely split open.

"He was trying to talk, but no words came out...and they took him away.”

The 31-year-old died a short time later at Jame Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Miss Kinnie told the court she knew her boyfriend had been involved in an earlier fight with Mr Sowerby.

She had seen a smart phone video of Mr Denton and Mr Sowerby, in a confrontation last October which ended with Mr Sowerby being knocked to the ground.

Miss Kinnie said the fight had been over a woman and had confronted Mr Denton about it - who vowed never to see the woman again.

Earlier, Mr Denton’s older brother, Craig, conceded his brother sometimes took drugs, including cocaine, and had collected drug debts.

The court was told he had been involved in a number of fights, often over women, in previous years and was given a suspended sentence in December 2011 for fracturing a man’s jaw.

Mr Denton, of Granville Road, was later prosecuted for possessing drugs, theft and criminal damage and jailed for breaking a curfew imposed for his crimes.

Sowerby, 24, of Allerton Close, and Middleton, 21, of Bruntoft Avenue, both Hartlepool, deny murder. The trial continues