A YOUNG man has been cleared of battering an openly gay teenager to death.
Jurors took almost 13 hours to find Gavin Alker not guilty of killing hairdresser Michael Causer, 18.
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.
Members of Mr Causer’s family ran from the court after the verdicts were delivered.
They wept and hugged each other outside court.
Relatives and friends have filled the public gallery every day during the two-week trial.
It was alleged Alker had punched, kicked and thrown a hardback book at Mr Causer in a homophobic attack after an all-night drinking session at a house in Biglands Drive, Huyton.
But Alker denied making any homophobic comments and insisted he had only hit extremely drunk Mr Causer in self-defence.
He blamed the fatal attack on his friend James O’Connor.
O’Connor, 19, formerly of Huyton, now of The Brow, Runcorn has already admitted murder.
Mr Causer died in hospital from massive head injuries eight days after the attack on July 25 last year.
Mr Justice King released Alker from the dock. He will fix a date later to sentence O’Connor and Michael Binsteed, 18, Evelyn Avenue, Prescot, for perverting the course of justice. THE ECHO