THE man who knocked on his friend’s door enabling a group of men to get in has spoken of his regret after Michael Phillips ended up being beaten to death.

Drug addict Anthony Small helped the gang get over the threshold but maintains he didn’t take part in any violence last June.

The 40-year-old told jurors ‘I blame myself, but I haven’t murdered nobody or hit nobody’ during his cross examination at Teesside Crown Court.

Small is one of seven men accused of murdering Michael Phillips, who was battered to death in his own home when he suffered almost 50 injuries including brain injuries, fractures to his skull, facial bones and 17 broken ribs.

The court heard that Small knocked on his friend's door in Rydal Street, Hartlepool, when the gang, including Niramax boss Neil Elliott, were looking for two men they believed were responsible to the burglary of his daughter's home.

Small told jurors that he didn't expect anyone to get hit and admitted that he ran away when things started to get heated.

"No one was supposed to get punched, no one was supposed to be injured – it wasn't supposed to happen," he said. "I left the house, I don't know how he suffered the injuries – I wish I knew but I don't.

"But I knew it wasn't Michael (Phillips) on the laptop."

When asked what he thought about what had happened to to his friend, he replied: "Don't you think I regret what happened? If it wasn't for me knocking on the door, he might have been okay.

"If I hadn't run away like a coward, he might have been okay."

When it was put to him he was tailoring his evidence to protect the gang, Small replied: "He (Michael) was my friend, I didn't even know these people."

The court heard how his co-accused Lee Darby had been involved in a violent attack on Small's brother when he was chased into a takeaway in the town before being kicked, punched and smashed over the back four times with a chair.

Earlier in the trial, Lee Darby decided not to give evidence despite warnings that the jury could 'draw inference' from his actions.

The seven, all from Hartlepool, are Lee Darby, 32, of Ridley Court; Neil Elliott, 44, of Briarfields Close; Gary Jackson, 31, of The Darlings; John Musgrave, 54, and Sean Musgrave, 30, both of Wordsworth Avenue; Craig Thorpe, 36, of Young Street; and Anthony Small, 40, of Rydal Street.

All of the men deny murder.

The trial continues.