Benefits Street star is jailed for life for the killing of man, 43

Benefits Street star, 40, who br

Benefits Street star is jailed for life for the killing of man, 43

Benefits Street star, 40, who brutally killed 43-year-old man in 'rampage of violence' causing him 114 separate injuries is jailed for 30 years

  • Neil Maxwell, 40, and Luke Pearson, 19, were both charged with the murder
  • Lee Cooper, 43, was murdered in what the judge called a 'rampage of violence' 
  • Cooper was left with 114 injuries after being beaten stripped and slashed 
Neil Maxwell, 40, pleaded guilty to murdering Lee Cooper, 43

Neil Maxwell, 40, pleaded guilty to murdering Lee Cooper, 43

A star of acclaimed documentary Benefits Street has been jailed for 30 years after brutally murdering a 40-year-old man.

Neil Maxwell, 40, and Luke Pearson, 19, were both charged with the murder of 43-year-old Lee Cooper in Stockton, county Durham on December 23 last year.  

Maxwell, of Lytton Court, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, had initially denied the murder of Mr Cooper, but dramatically changed his plea last week.

Mr Cooper was brutally kicked, stamped on, stripped naked, slashed and bludgeoned to death in a 'rampage of violence', the court heard.

He was attacked with weapons including hammers, a craft knife, a spiked knuckle-duster, a half-brick and a TV stand, Teesside Crown Court was told.

He suffered 114 injuries including multiple skull fractures, bleeding and swelling to the brain and 24 puncture wounds to his back.

The Crown said the eight-minute attack was 'the endgame of a simmering feud' after Mr Cooper was accused of an assault.

A military doctor had said he'd never seen such serious injuries during four tours of Afghanistan.

Lee Cooper, 43, died in hospital after suffering 'serious' injuries during the attack in Stockton last year

Lee Cooper, 43, died in hospital after suffering 'serious' injuries during the attack in Stockton last year

Pearson, formerly of Westbourne Street, Parkfield, Stockton, denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility but was found guilty by a jury on Monday.

Today at Teesside Crown Court, Maxwell was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years.

Pearson was jailed for life with a minimum term of 24 years. 

Both will have time already spent on remand counted towards their sentence.

Both men received six years for a separate serious wounding charge and 18 months for assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH), linked to violence carried out in the hours up to the murder. These sentences will be concurrent.

As Judge Ashurst explained the sentences, Maxwell shouted from the dock: 'F*** licence, I will just do the 30 years, no problem. No problem.'

As the judge ordered he be taken down, Maxwell continued: 'That is absolutely sound, that will do me.'

There were shouts of 'scumbag' from the public gallery as he was led away. 

Earlier in court, as Pearson's previous convictions were listed, the 19-year-old shouted from the dock: 'Just put me away for 30 years, f*** it.'

Maxwell had also shouted from the dock following an impassioned victim statement from Mr Cooper's sister Louise.

Police set up a cordon around the place where the attack took place in Stockton two days before Christmas last year

Police set up a cordon around the place where the attack took place in Stockton two days before Christmas last year

Turning to both men, she said: 'Those two individuals who have sat in the dock and shown no remorse or regret.

'They're not men, or even human. Not even animals are that sadistic and callous as they have shown to be through the brutal murder of Lee.'

She continued: 'You both mutilated him into something that no person should ever have to see.'

But in one of a number of outbursts during the 90 minute long sentencing on Thursday, Maxwell said: 'I have shown remorse. Put me in jail for as long as you like, but don't give this poor lad (pointing at Pearson) as long. I started it.' 

Summing up, Judge Stephen Ashurst said the murder showed 'quite exceptional brutality' using punches and kicks as well as weapons including knives, a spiked knuckle-duster, a TV stand and a house brick.

Judge Ashurst said the murder was played out in public 'to the utter horror of those watching in the street' and said 'witnesses could scarce believe what was unfolding in front of them'.

Judge Ashurst said the CCTV footage played 'as amongst the most harrowing I have ever seen in a courtroom'.

Speaking after his death, his family said they were 'absolutely devastated' adding: 'Lee was deeply loved by family and all who knew him.' 

Maxwell previously appeared on Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street (pictured)

Maxwell previously appeared on Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street (pictured)

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