A 19-year-old walked free from court yesterday after being found not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of gay teenager Michael Causer.
The jury at Liverpool Crown Court spend more than 12 hours considering its verdict before clearing Gavin Alker.
Mr Causer, 18, was attacked at the Huyton home of his friend Michael Binsteed’s grandmother.
After a 999 call he was found by paramedics in the street on Friday 25th July.
Despite surgery to try to reduce swelling on his brain, Michael Causer died at 2:30pm on Saturday 2nd August.
James O’Connor, formerly of Huyton, but now of Runcorn, has admitted murdering Mr Causer but denies it was motivated by homophobia.
Binsteed, 18, of Evelyn Avenue, Prescot, admitted perverting the course of justice.
“Smartly-dressed Alker, 19, showed little emotion in the dock as the five men and seven women panel at Liverpool Crown Court cleared him of both murder and manslaughter,” reports the Liverpool Daily Post.
“Members of Mr Causer’s family ran from the court after the verdicts were delivered.
“They wept and hugged each other outside court.”
Appearing as a prosecution witness, Binsteed had told the court that O’Connor and Alker kicked and punched Mr Causer in the head as he lay sleeping after an all-night drinking session.
He testified that Alker shouted homophobic abuse at Mr Causer as they beat him.
The prosecution claimed O’Connor and Binsteed then decided to dump Mr Causer in the street by carrying him over a fence.
Binsteed later called an ambulance after seeing Mr Causer bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth, but told police the victim was attacked in the street by three random men.
Binsteed told the court he lied because he is scared of O’Connor and Alker.
Alker testified he had acted in self-defence and was unaware Mr Causer was gay.
He said O’Connor had kicked and punched Mr Causer.
O’Connor and Binsteed will be sentenced at a later date.
Supt Martin Andrew of Merseyside Police said outside court:
“We respect the decision of the court today, however we are obviously extremely disappointed.
“This is a difficult day for the family and our deepest sympathies are with them at this time.
“There has been a collective determination from all staff and officers involved, to bring about justice for Michael and his family.”
“As someone who has followed this case closely from the beginning, I have to say I am at a loss as to what to do now.
“I just didn’t believe a not guilty verdict was possible in this case.”