MURDERER Brian Cox was a man torn between two women, his barrister Rodney Jameson said.

Cox's love life led to tragedy and disaster not only for himself, but for five children now left fatherless, and also for their relatives.

But he wasn’t always torn between two women.

For a decade, he had a steady relationship with one woman, Dawn Heather Coates. They had a son together whom they both love. But in November 2010, they split up and she was so determined to live a life away from him, she took out a non-molestation order against him.

A year earlier, Susan Webb had taken out a similar order against her husband Mark. They had been together for 13 years and had four children together. Mark had a fifth child by another woman. The marriage had been violent and various organisations had tried to help the parents.

Susan stayed in the marital home in Middleton Road with their children and Mark moved out. At the time of his death, he was living in Cornlands Road. He was to return to the family home in the very last minutes of his life, when, fatally wounded by Cox, he staggered into its garden.

The separation hit Mark hard. He became depressed and on New Year's Eve, he self-harmed. He could also, as Susan knew, be violent when he had been drinking, and on the day of his death, he had spent some hours at the pub.

Susan too could be angry. She was capable of throwing things about when they argued and when she heard that her friend Kerry Munton had broken ranks and exposed the murder cover-up she threatened to kill her.

Kerry was to tell the jury she only went along with the cover-up in the first place because she was terrified of what Susan would do if she didn't.

They had not known each other long. Although they lived in adjacent streets, it wasn't until after the Webbs' marriage broke up they met and became friends. Through their friendship, Susan met Brian Cox. In the early part of this year, he moved in with his friend Paul Quinn - who lived with his partner Kerry. All four were at Kerry's house in Stuart Road when Mark arrived, in drink, shortly after 4pm on March 4. All four were to be arrested in connection with the murder. Mr Quinn was later released without charge, though the jury heard he may have disposed of the murder weapon by dropping it in a litter bin outside a McColl's store in Acomb.

Cox and Susan Webb became an item sometime at the end of last winter. It is not exactly clear when and Cox was at pains to conceal the fact from social services who were still involved with the Webb family. But he was spending time at Middleton Road and the relationship was probably sexual. There was talk of the two of them moving to Wales and starting a completely new life, something Susan Webb was to deny that she wanted. She said she couldn't contemplate taking Mark's children so far away from him.

In the aftermath of his death, she was to describe him as a "wonderful daddy" and to say that he had been a big part of her life and he would be "sorely missed". She collapsed into hysterical crying when told of his death.

But, starting in the morning of March 4, and ending shortly before he arrived at Stuart Road, she had exchanged a series of acrimonious text messages and phone calls with him, including a text that Cox was a "better father" than Mark had ever been and culminating in an angry call in the street in which she used language that shocked passers-by. She also told her husband in no uncertain way she had a new man in her life.

And it was Susan who precipitated the final tragedy when, during a tense but non-violent confrontation in the back garden between her lover and her husband, she shouted through the back door "F... off, Mark" and provoked him into making for the door.

When Mark was dying from a throat wound, she rang 999, but not for an ambulance. She was more concerned to protect Cox, who had taken a Stanley knife from the kitchen drawer and reassured her everything would be all right before going out to confront her husband.

She wanted to make sure police got hold of the right end of the stick. Looking after Mark came second.

Susan was so much in love with Cox she was prepared to lie and lie to police, to lie under oath in court to give him an alibi, to remove evidence against him and to co-ordinate the cover-up.

She was even prepared to brief Kerry Munton on what to say while she was on the phone to the police and the control room was taping every word she said as well as what Kerry said to her.

She was unaware that for some weeks, Cox had been cheating on her with Dawn Coates, the woman who had a court order out against him.

He had sent Dawn a Christmas card and on February 4, with the order still in force, they got together again. According to Dawn, every day he apologised for what he had done before November.

She was wary of letting him get too close to her. She wasn't sure if she wanted him back in her house yet. She warned him he was on his last chance and any violence by him would mean they were through.

But he had bought her a ring and he was preparing to propose to her. The relationship with Susan he told her, was one-sided. Susan wanted it, he did not. Dawn and Cox had a court date for three days after the murder when she was to apply for the order against him to be lifted.

He never made it. Despite Dawn’s warning and his insistence that she was the first woman in his life, Cox was prepared to use lethal force to stop Mark hitting Susan. His immediate reaction to a particularly unpleasant text message from Mark to Susan on the day of the murder was "he's dead".

The two women in Cox's life met for the first time in the dock after both were charged with perverting the course of justice to protect him. Susan knew Cox was seeing his son - she didn't know he was also seeing his son's mother.

Initially after his arrest, Cox went along with Susan's account that he wasn't at the house and wasn't to blame, but after the neighbours and Kerry placed him firmly at the scene, he changed tack and claimed the murder had been an "accident".

The jury didn’t believe him. Now he is starting many years behind bars with no women at all - and one of his girlfriends may soon be behind bars herself.