‘I didn’t mean for any of this to happen’ says Sunderland man accused of death punch

MARK DIXON: Struck his head on the pavement after being punched and died six days later.
MARK DIXON: Struck his head on the pavement after being punched and died six days later.
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A REVELLER insists he did not mean to kill a dad after being confronted about a suggestive remark while on a night out.

Paul Sutton, on trial for the manslaughter of stranger Mark Dixon after assaulting him on a night out, told Teesside Crown Court that he didn’t intend to kill Mr Dixon.

He pushed past my friend. I felt intimidated. I thought he was going to hit me.

Paul Sutton

Giving evidence, Sutton, 29, told the jury he felt intimidated and believed that Mr Dixon was going to punch him after being challenged about a remark he had made to Cheryl Bell, a friend of Mr Dixon’s.

The trial heard that Mr Dixon, 32, took offence to Sutton, of Fordham Road, Sunderland, shouting ‘gee up’ towards Miss Bell as they passed each other in Hartlepool’s Victoria Road, in the early hours of Sunday, October 5.

Sutton denies manslaughter. He claims he only punched Mr Dixon after he had pushed past his friend Keith Long.

Mr Dixon was knocked unconscious and hit his head on the pavement. He suffered brain injuries and died in hospital six days later.

Sutton admitted acting boisterously in the minutes before the assault and flirting with girls.

Sutton said the comment ‘gee up’ was meant to signal to his friend that he thought Miss Bell was attractive.

John Elvidge, defending, asked Sutton: “Did you intend to cause offence?”

He replied: “No. It was just daft lads’ banter.”

Mr Elvidge then asked: “When was it that you decided to punch him?”

Sutton answered: “When he pushed past Keith.”

Mr Elvidge asked him: “Did you calculate how hard you might hit him, what might happen to him or anything like that?”

Sutton replied: “No, definitely not. I didn’t have time to calculate anything.”

He said he walked away from the scene back to his then home in Raby Gardens, Hartlepool, because he did not realise how serious the consequences were.

“I honestly thought he would have got up,” he said.

Demolition worker Sutton claimed he tried to reason with Mr Dixon by swearing at him in an effort to encourage him to go away.

Under cross-examination, Sutton accepted that, in hindsight, he could have walked away himself.

Prosecutor Tim Roberts suggested that Sutton could also have said sorry for the remark.

Sutton replied: “Yeah, but it wouldn’t have made any difference. I could see the anger in his face. He was coming at me.

“It was 10 seconds. I didn’t have time to think of anything or saying sorry.

“I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”

Sutton agreed with Mr Roberts that Mr Dixon did not deserve to be hit as hard as he was, but he maintained he felt threatened.

He said: “He pushed past my friend. I felt intimidated. I thought he was going to hit me.”

Sutton accepted that Mr Dixon did not have his fists clenched or draw back his arm, but he said he had moved close to him.

“I just flung a punch out of reaction in the heat of the moment,” he said.

The trial continues.