Tees

Lee Cooper death: Second conviction over Stockton murder

Lee Cooper Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Lee Cooper was stripped, slashed, beaten and stamped on during the attack

A man has been convicted for his part in the "brutal and sadistic" murder of a man who was stripped, slashed and beaten to death in a street.

Lee Cooper was attacked with a hammer, Stanley knife, knuckle duster and a TV stand in Stockton in December.

Luke Pearson, 19, who had denied murder, was found guilty at Teesside Crown Court.

His accomplice Neil Maxwell, 40, who appeared in the Channel 4 show Benefits Street, had earlier admitted murder.

Both men are due to be sentenced on Thursday.

The jury had been shown CCTV footage in which Mr Cooper, 43, sustained more than 100 injuries in the street attack, which was the result of a "simmering feud" between the three men.

During the two-week trial, the jury heard from an Army surgeon who had served in Afghanistan, who described Mr Cooper's injuries as the worst he had ever seen.

Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Police said neither Maxwell, left, or Pearson had shown any remorse

In a statement released after the hearing, Mr Cooper's family said: "We are very pleased that Neil Maxwell and Luke Pearson have been proven guilty of murdering our much loved son, brother and uncle.

"They both tried to hide behind legislation to prevent them from being found guilty of murder, but the judge and jury saw through this and rightly convicted them of a brutal and sadistic murder."

Det Ch Insp Matt Murphy-King, of Cleveland Police, added: "Neil Maxwell and Luke Pearson subjected Lee Cooper to a sustained and brutal murder in the middle of a residential street and in my years as a detective I have never dealt with such a horrific incident.

"They have shown no remorse for their actions and have subjected Lee's family to the horrific details of his death being played out in open court."

The court heard a feud had developed after Maxwell, of Lytton Court, North Ormesby, and Pearson, of Westbourne Street, Stockton, had attacked a friend of the victim.

Jurors were told a post-mortem examination showed Mr Cooper's injuries included multiple skull fractures and 24 puncture wounds to his back which were consistent with the use of the spiked knuckle duster.

Maxwell had initially claimed he was in fear of serious violence which caused him to lose control but then changed his plea to guilty after the trial began.

Pearson argued his mental health was "substantially impaired" and denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

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