A MAN had been cleared of the manslaughter of a Morley man who was found dead in his flat days after being hit in the face.
Christopher James Stott, 23, of Malvern Rise, Beeston was found not guilty by a jury at Leeds Crown Court of the manslaughter of Lee Taylor, 38, a former pupil of Bruntcliffe High School, after pleading that he had acted in self defence.
During the five day trial, the court heard how Craig Sharpe, known to both Mr Stott and Mr Taylor, had a casual job as a night watchman of warehouse premises, Climax Works in Garnet Road, Beeston, where the incident had taken place.
On Friday, April 27 this year Mr Sharpe and Mr Taylor had planned to go for a drink and Mr Sharpe asked Mr Stott to do his job at the warehouse in return for 50, to which Mr Stott agreed.
Taking to the witness box, Mr Stott told the court how later that night two of his friends Martin Davison and Michael Kelby arrived at the site.
When asked by defence counsel Miss Kama Melly if inviting his friends was ok he replied: “Yes. Craig said that the job is boring and if you want your mates there they you can ask them to come up.”
He added that shortly after they arrived Mikey left the site to go the a nearby garage.
It was then Mr Stott and Mr Davison decided to hide and jump out on Mr Kelby when he came back.
Mr Stott said: “We hid behind a skip and when Mikey came back we followed him down the yard.
“He’d gone around the corner and I popped my head around and saw another two people were walking up.
“Mikey was walking towards them and I shouted ‘Oy, freeze’.
“I couldn’t see who the other two people were. I only saw it was Craig and Lee when we all got together.”
He added: “Craig asked me how it (the shift) had gone and I said ok. Craig’s mate then started going loopy.
“I couldn’t really hear what he was saying, he was mumbling. He was walking in the middle of us swearing under his breath. He was fuming, waving his hands around.”
He said then Mr Taylor started shining the torch into his face.
“He was shouting ‘you have no authority’, “ he said. “The light was hurting my eyes so I put my head down.
He was still shouting and swearing and I saw his hand was clenched in a fist and moving up.
“I moved back a little and swung my hand up and hit him.”
Asked by Miss Melly why he hit him, Mr Stott replied: “I thought he was going to hit me.
“I hit him in the side of the face and he fell down. His legs collapsed and he fell backwards. I didn’t hit him hard.”
He said that after going back into the compound with Mr Sharpe and Mr Davison, they looked out and saw that Mr Taylor had gone.
When asked by Miss Melly what he would have done if he’d known about the extent of Mr Taylor’s injuries, he said: “I would have rang an ambulance.”
The court heard that on hearing that Mr Taylor had died Mr Stott handed himself into Holbeck Police Station.
It took the jury just 30 minutes to reach a unanimous not guilty verdict.