ONE of the brothers accused of axing a boxer to death at a New Year’s Eve party told police he was acting in self-defence, a court heard today (Tuesday, June 17).

Antony Middleton, 21, also told police he had grabbed hold of the weapon, which was lying on a floor at a Hartlepool house party, as boxer Mark Denton was stabbing at him and at one point was holding him by the throat.

Middleton, of Bruntoft Avenue, Hartlepool, and his half-brother, David Sowerby, 24, of Allerton Close, in the town, both deny Mr Denton’s murder.

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Detective Constable Mark Earle was one of a team who interviewed Mr Middleton after he handed himself in to police and, with lawyer Martin Towers, prosecuting, read through the content at Teesside Crown Court.

In the interview Mr Middleton said: “I am responsible, but I acted in self-defence. I only did it because I had no choice.”

He went on to say he had been drinking Budweiser at various points in the day, but said he wasn’t drunk. At the rave party on Hutton Avenue he had taken about half-a-gram of cocaine. He said he was about 6ft away from his half-brother and Mr Denton at the party when a fight broke out between them.

He denied he had ever seen Mr Denton before he had tried to drag him off. Shortly after the boxer turned on him, he said.

He said: “He (Mr Denton) grabbed hold of me and pushed me on to the couch. He grabbed me by the throat and tried to punch me. He caught me a couple of times. My brother tried to drag him off. Mark knocked him away. He gave him about three punches. I seen him pick something up, I think on the kitchen table. He had a knife in his hand, it was flat, like a bread knife. He jumped on top of me. He had the knife to the he could cut my throat.

“I grabbed something off the floor. I just kept hitting him with something, don’t what it was, it was like an axe or something.”

In later interviews, Mr Middleton declined to comment. Mr Sowerby, who is also accused of attacking Mr Denton with an axe and of having a grudge against the boxer over a previous fight involving a woman, also declined to comment.

The trial continues and the defence is expected to start tomorrow (Wednesday, June 18).