A man who taunted a gay couple, one of whom died of a heart attack after the incident, faces jail.
However, though certain to receive a custodial sentence, Robert Horn has been cleared of causing the death of Malcolm Bryan, who suffered the fatal heart attack during the confrontation in September 2006.
Judge Michael Brodrick said there was insufficient evidence to support the prosecution’s case that Horn had attacked Mr Bryan at the top of a flight of stairs, causing his heart attack.
He directed the jury at Winchester Crown Court to clear Horn of Mr Bryan’s manslaughter at the half-way point of the trial, which had been running for five days.
Horn, 49, then pleaded guilty to the charge of affray, which he had previously denied.
Judge Brodrick said:
‘I have come to the conclusion there is no evidence on which the jury could safely and properly conclude that the defendant punched or pushed the deceased at or near the top of the stairs.’
Malcolm met his death just days after attending a fundraising benefit at the Boston Clipper in memory of Michael Fardon.
“After the benefit I felt on such a high and that we are finally achieving something for the gay community and we are going to make a difference,” said the organiser of the Northampton event which raised money to improve hate crime services in the area.
“Now this has happened to such a lovely guy who was so passionate about the gay community.”
During the trial Mr Bryan’s partner, Martin Gray, told the jury that Horn was drunk when he confronted them in a stairwell at Wimpole Court, Landport, Portsmouth.
The 43-year-old described how Horn got in the lift with them before they tried to bundle him out.
He said he and Mr Bryan then tried to run away from Horn and get back to their home in Crown Court.
Witness Daniel Houghton-Young said he got out of bed when he heard a man yelling:
“Come on you queers, where are you? When we find you we’re going to kill you.”
Mr Bryan, who had a pre-existing heart condition, suffered a fatal heart attack during the incident.
Malcom’s death has left Martin having to care for Malcom’s 98-year-old mother who had been dependant on him.
Martin has given up his job to ensure Mrs Bryan is looked after.
Horn will be sentenced on May 23. The maximum sentence for affray is three years