UPDATE Friday, 5.15pm: Two teenagers charged with perverting the course of justice have appeared before the judge for sentencing.
A 14-year-old who denied the charge was convicted by the jury on a 10-2 majority. He was given a youth rehabilitation order with six months’ supervision.
The second boy, who is 16, admitted perverting the course of justice by disposing of the metal pole. He will appear at Grantham Youth Court for sentencing at a later date.
Friday, 2pm: Six teenagers accused of killing Spalding man Warren Free were today (Friday) cleared of both murder and manslaughter charges at the end of a five week trial at Lincoln Crown Court.
The jury of six men and six women spent more than 27 hours spread over seven days deliberating before returning their verdicts.
The youngsters , including three 14 year olds, were alleged to have attacked Mr Free after he confronted them in a park behind his home over late night noise and vandalism.
Stuart Trimmer QC , prosecuting, told the jury that Mr Free was tripped from behind and then punched, kicked and stamped on before a 15-year-old girl struck him four times over the head with an iron pole that the youngsters had snatched from him.
Mr Free returned to his home in Coronation Close, Spalding, and went to bed but friends were later unable to rouse him. An ambulance was called and he was airlifted to hospital in Nottingham but passed away within 24 hours from a brain injury.
Mr Trimmer told the jury: “This was a fast and brutal attack. It lasted probably no more than a couple of minutes but it was a sustained and vicious assault. It went far beyond anything that could be said to amount to lawful self defence. Warren Free was on the floor unable to fight back. The picture is of a group of youths gathering around a helpless man and delivering an attack with feet, fists and a metal weapon.”
Afterwards the iron pole was thrown into the nearby Coronation Channel in a bid to prevent fingerprints being found on it.
The teenagers were later arrested and charged with murder.
None of them gave evidence in the trial but two, through their barristers, argued they were simply innocent bystanders who were some distance away when the assault took place. A teenage witness, who was also at the park, told the jury that the two boys did not take part in the violence.
Others argued that Mr Free had threatened the group with the iron pole and they acted in self defence.
The six teenagers all denied the murder of Warren Free on August 29, 2014. They were Jake Edwards (18) and five others who cannot be named because of a court order. They included two girls, one aged 15 and the other 14 at the time, together with three other boys, two aged 14 at the time and the other aged 16.