A DRUG-CRAZED killer was last night starting a minimum 15-year life sentence for battering to death a neighbour in his own home.

Anthony Muldoon was found guilty by a Teesside Crown Court jury yesterday afternoon of murdering electrician Norman Illingworth.

Muldoon was said to have killed Mr Illingworth, 57, in anger in a “deliberate and targeted way” using his fists, feet and vacuum cleaner parts.

The 26-year-old also savagely attacked Mr Illingworth’s disabled friend, Andrew Hulse, 38, during the orgy of violence in Middlesbrough.

Mr Illingworth and Mr Hulse had been drinking with others at the house in Essex Street on February 17, and Muldoon popped in several times during the day.

He had taken cocaine and amphetamine as well as alcohol before snapping after misinterpreting a remark Mr Illingworth made about his sister.

A neighbour told the jury that he heard repeated shouts of “you’d do what?” each time before hearing a thud – the blows delivered by Muldoon.

Muldoon accepted killing Mr Illingworth and causing the injuries to Mr Hulse, but denied murder and assault on an unusual technicality.

He claimed he had downed a drink of vodka and cola which had been spiked by Mr Illingworth, but had been earlier intended for someone else.

The jury of nine men and three women rejected the defence, reaching their unanimous verdicts after less than three hours.

Judge Peter Fox branded Muldoon a danger and told him he should not believe that he will be freed when the 15- year tariff is reached.

“You bludgeoned that man to death in his own home when he was at your mercy and completely vulnerable,”

Judge Fox told him.

“Whatever sparked off the disagreement that led to that violence was of small significance.

You were, however, fired up by a combination of an excess of alcohol and illicit drugs which, I am satisfied, included both amphetamine and cocaine.”

Eric Elliott, QC, mitigating, described Muldoon, of Surrey Street, as a Jekyll and Hyde character who was pleasant and likeable when he was sober.

“When he has had drink and drugs, Mr Hyde comes out,” said Mr Elliott. “This was not a case of long premeditation.

“Something sparked the matter off, and when he was laced with drink and drugs, then the end was sadly all there for everybody to see.”

Acting Detective Inspector Simon Hurwood, senior investigating officer, said: “This was a completely unprovoked and sustained attack. Anthony Muldoon is a violent individual who was out of control that evening and fully deserves to spend a long time in prison.”

After the case, Mr Illingworth’s family released a statement which said: “Let’s not remember Norman as having been murdered, but the smiling, funny, caring and thoughtful man that he was.”