South East Wales

Mark Hopes murder: 'Brutal' stepfather killer jailed

Leon Port Image copyright Wales news service

A man who helped his mother batter his stepfather to death has been told he must serve at least 18 years behind bars for the murder.

Leon Port, 24, and his mother Maria Hopes killed 45-year-old Mark Hopes in what was described as a "brutal and horrific" attack.

The pair left Mr Hopes dying at a house in Trealaw, Rhondda Cynon Taff, last October, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Port was jailed for life, while his mother will be sentenced next month.

The court was told that the pair tried to blame each other for the death of Mr Hopes.

But sentencing Port on Friday, Mr Justice Picken said: "You and your mother's culpability was equal and I consider it likely that both of you took part in the attack.

"Mr Hopes met an untimely and vicious death, taken away in brutal fashion. He was kicked and punched and a vase smashed on his head in a ferocious way.

Cover-up

"He was subjected to horrific violence and died over a period of hours, suffering considerably from his injuries and you did nothing to lessen his suffering.

"You and your mother cleaned up to cover-up what happened and then lied to the police."

During his trial the court heard Port had spent the day with his stepfather and was drinking on the sofa with him before the violence erupted.

Port and his partner Rebecca Donovan, 24, both of Mountain Ash, were also sentenced for perverting the course of justice.

Donovan, who was said to be scared of him and had given him a false alibi, was handed a 16-month suspended sentence.

'Heart of gold'

Mr Hopes' friends and family, wearing red T-shirts with his name Mark emblazoned on them, were in court for the sentencing.

In an impact statement his sister Yvonne Smith said: "He had a heart of gold and loved his children and grandchildren.

"He was funny, playful and made us laugh and we are all devastated."

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