A man who witnessed the brutal beating of his friend told a jury that he was ‘scared for his life’ while he was kicked and stabbed to death.

Devlin Lee was in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ when called at Lee Clarkson’s home where he kept his pet dog.

The witness said a group of armed men turned up at the alleged murder victim’s home looking for a man they believed had carried out a burglary of one of their sheds.

Teesside Crown Court heard how their intended target managed to jump out of a window and flee the scene in Bishop Auckland but Mr Clarkson was not so lucky.

Lee ClarksonLee Clarkson (Image: DURHAM CONSTABULARY)

Lee Clarkson suffered three stab wounds when he was subjected to the mob-handed fatal beating, jurors heard.

During his evidence, Mr Lee told the court how the violence erupted when the masked group turned up at his friend’s home looking for Simon Blacklock, who they believed had stolen £2,000 worth of goods out of a shed belonging to one of them.

A recording of his police interview was played to the jury on the second day of evidence being heard during the trial.

He told detectives that two of the gang went upstairs to search the house for Mr Blacklock.

When asked what was going through his mind at the time, he replied: "Pure fear."

Police at the scene on the evening of the incident. Police at the scene on the evening of the incident. (Image: TERRY BLACKBURN)

The witness says he heard them coming back downstairs and heard the front door opening.

"I popped my head round the door and saw them stamping on him, kicking him and hitting him," he said.

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During cross-examination from Christopher Tehrani KC, who represents Michael Richardson, the barrister quizzed Mr Lee about the incidents leading up to the alleged murder on November 29 last year.

Mr Tehrani asked the witness if he was traumatised by what he heard. He said: "I was scared for my life because they came into my friend's house and attacked him. They smashed the windows and then came in - I was scared."

Police at the scene of the alleged murder of Lee Clarkson in Bishop AucklandPolice at the scene of the alleged murder of Lee Clarkson in Bishop Auckland (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Under cross-examination from James Bourne-Arton KC, representing Karl Jones, the barrister asked Mr Lee how many people were involved in the fatal attack and what he could remember.

He replied: "I didn't want any of this to happen. I wasn't expecting any of this to happen.

"I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. So was Lee (Mr Clarkson).

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"He suffered for it, for something that Simon had done."

Michael Richardson, 52, of Boddy Street, Bishop Auckland; Karl Jones, 45, of General Bucher Court, Bishop Auckland; Helen Jones, 42, of General Bucher Court, Bishop Auckland; Craig Dent, 42, of Gray Street, Eldon Lane; and the teenager who cannot be named for legal reasons, are all on trial for murder.

Two members of the group, Craig Dent and the 17-year-old have admitted manslaughter but continue to deny murder of Mr Clarkson outside his home on West Lane in Bishop Auckland on November 29 last year.

The trial continues.