Manchester Evening News | 20 June 2019 |
Maxwell portrayed himself as a ‘King of Kids” who smoked a bong for breakfast, showed off his cannabis stash for the cameras and turned up late for court in the first episode of the controversial 2015 TV series.
Benefits Street star Neil Maxwell told a judge “that is absolutely sound” as he was today jailed for his part in a murder.
Maxwell, 40, from North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, has been sentenced for life with a minimum term of 30 years over the death of Lee Cooper.
Mr Cooper was brutally kicked, stamped on, stripped naked, slashed and bludgeoned to death in a “rampage of violence” shortly before Christmas, the court heard.
The victim, 43, suffered 114 injuries including multiple skull fractures, bleeding and swelling to the brain and 24 puncture wounds to his back.
Maxwell appeared in the dock alongside Luke Pearson, 19, from Parkfield, Stockton, who was also found guilty of Mr Cooper’s murder, reports Teesside Live.
Maxwell, who was thrust into the spotlight on Channel 4’s Benefits Street as a tattooed skinhead, had initially denied the murder of Mr Cooper, but dramatically changed his plea last week.
Pearson denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility but was found guilty by a jury on Monday. He was today jailed for life with a minimum term of 24 years.
Both will have time already spent on remand counted towards their sentence.
The pair received six years for a separate 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.”
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, Pearson shouted from the dock: “Just put me away for 30 years, f*** it.” as his previous convictions were listed.
Maxwell had also shouted from the dock following an impassioned victim statement from Mr Cooper’s sister Louise.
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.”
Maxwell shouted: “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.”
Mr Cooper was attacked with weapons including hammers, a craft knife, a spiked knuckle-duster, a half-brick and a TV stand, the court was told.
The Crown said the eight-minute attack on December 23, 2018 was “the endgame of a simmering feud” after Mr Cooper was accused of an assault on the pair’s friend.
Meanwhile, Maxwell portrayed himself as a ‘King of Kids” who smoked a bong for breakfast, showed off his cannabis stash for the cameras and turned up late for court in the first episode of the controversial 2015 TV series.
In reality, he was a sadistic thug with a long history of violence who slashed victims across the back as a ‘warning’.
Both he and Pearson were filmed on police cameras after their arrest, with Maxwell bragging about the horrific murder.
The jury was shown disturbing footage in which Mr Cooper sustained horrific injuries, filmed by a nearby security camera.
The “feud” between the three men resulted in injuries to Mr Cooper, which an ex-Army doctor described as the worst he had ever seen despite four tours of Afghanistan.
Mr Cooper’s family said they had lost a ‘much loved son, brother and uncle’ to two men who tried to hide behind legislation to avoid a murder conviction.
“But the judge and jury saw through this,” they said.
Det Ch Insp Matt Murphy-King, of Cleveland Police, said Mr Cooper was victim of a sustained and brutal murder in the middle of a residential street.
“In my years as a detective I have never dealt with such a horrific incident,” he said.
“They have shown no remorse and have subjected Lee’s family to the horrific details of his death played out in open court.”
Maxwell had initially claimed he was in fear of serious violence which caused him to lose control. But that defence was denied him by the judge, and he admitted murder after the trial began.