TWO brothers were this afternoon jailed for life for the brutal murder of former boxer Peter Hoe.

At the end of a trial which has lasted more than five weeks, David and Terry Reed were found guilty of stabbing to death Mr Hoe.

The verdicts - which came after the jury deliberated for almost ten hours - were welcomed by the victim's family and friends.

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As the smirking brothers were led away to the cells from the dock Teesside Crown Court they turned to the judge and said "thank-you".

David Reed, 29, was obsessed with renowned hard-man Mr Hoe and wanted to replace him as their neighbourhood's toughest character.

He sought several fights with the 43-year-old but was told by Mr Hoe: "You'll never be the hardest around here as long as I'm alive."

On October 12 last year, after a drinking and drug-taking session, Reed enlisted the help of his younger brother to attack Mr Hoe.

They struck when he returned to his home in Jubilee Road, Eston, near Middlesbrough, from a visit to his mother's house nearby.

Father-of-six Mr Hoe was stabbed seven times and his body was found the following day when a friend, Lance Gray, called to see him.

Two pieces of plastic - splinters from knife handles - were discovered near the body in the front room of the terraced house.

A blade which matched one of the handles was found in a drain at the back of the property during a police search a week later.

Scientific tests on the fragments of plastic showed one carried David Reed's DNA while and the other matched his brother, 26.

The brothers, from nearby Grangetown, were arrested after rumours spread about David's fixation with Mr Hoe and their fights.

Following the verdicts, members of Mr Hoe's family screamed "get in" and his mother Maureen wept in the public gallery.

Mr Justice Keith imposed a miminum tariff of 18 years on the brothers beforfe they were led away to start their sentences.