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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 20:42 GMT
Man guilty of pensioner's fire death
Hull Combined Courts
The case is being heard at Hull Crown Court
One of two men charged with the murder of a pensioner found dead in his burnt-out flat after being cleared of paedophile charges, has been found guilty.

Gary Lawson, 20, of Grimsby, was convicted by a jury at Hull Crown Court of murdering Alf Wilkins in February 2001.

Mr Wilkins, 67, died due to smoke inhalation after arsonists set fire to his flat in Arundel Walk, on the Yarborough Estate in Grimsby.

The jury returned the verdict on the fifth day of deliberations.

Victim cleared

Retired merchant seaman Mr Wilkins had been cleared of indecent assault charges against a nine-year-old girl but been subjected to taunts and abuse following his trial.

Lawson, of Ludlow Avenue, Grimsby, shouted: "You can't keep me down forever," after the verdict was read out.

He was found guilty by the eight man, four-woman jury after more than 23 hours deliberation, and was last week convicted of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm.

Ian Lawless, 40, of Conway Avenue, Grimsby, is also accused of murder but the jury have not yet reached a verdict on this charge.

Sentence postponed

Gary Fairbanks, 43, also of Ludlow Avenue, is charged with incitement to murder and threats to destroy property.

Both deny the charges.

Lawson's girlfriend, Chantelle Day, 17, of Haven Gardens, Grimsby, was last week convicted of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm in the case.

Mr Justice Geoffrey Grigson said he would postpone sentencing until all the verdicts had been delivered.

The jury were sent home for the day to return to court on Tuesday to continue their deliberations on the other charges.

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