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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 July, 2004, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Man cleared of murder with spoon
A judge had to clear a court after an outburst when a man was cleared of murdering another man, by hitting him on the head with a dessert spoon.

Family and friends of Timothy Magee shouted at the jury who returned the not guilty verdict at St Albans Crown Court on Thursday.

Richard Clare, 31, a heroin addict was cleared of murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter.

He was also cleared of causing actual bodily harm to another man.

The court had heard Mr Clare used the spoon to inflict a fatal wound on Mr Magee, 38, in a row over a mobile phone on 28 November last year.

Mr Clare hit Mr Magee on the back of the head with the spoon after he had taken the mobile phone from a third man.

The spoon's impact ruptured an artery and caused fatal bleeding in the area between his skull and brain.

Self-defence claim

On the day of the incident, Mr Clare climbed out of a window at Vale House Drug Rehabilitation Centre, Hertford and took a taxi to disabled James Gibson's home in Blythway House, Welwyn Garden City.

He was not able to collect cash that he thought Mr Gibson owed him, but admitted to stealing the man's phone in a bid to swap it for some heroin.

Later, Timothy Magee, an acquaintance of Mr Gibson, joined him and tried to get the phone back.

Mr Clare said he was acting in self defence after being butted by Mr Magee and suffering blows from Mr Gibson's walking aid.

The jury was told that Mr Gibson had also died.

Mr Clare denied murder and causing actual bodily harm to James Gibson.

He admitted stealing the phone and was jailed for seven days by Judge Findlay Baker QC. Time spent on remand meant he was to be released immediately.

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