A FACTORY worker was found not guilty of manslaughter and perverting the course of justice after a man died in a Wirral pub.
John Burns, 33, punched Kenny Wylde in the Wine Lodge, Birkenhead, in February after a disagreement over spitting on the floor.
Throughout the two-week trial jurors heard how Mr Wylde, who was four times over the drink drive limit and had cannabis in his system, had acted in a “threatening” manner towards a group after listening in to their football banter.
Witnesses said when Mr Burns, who had been drinking for most of the afternoon, challenged him about spitting on the floor of the bar, telling him it was “disrespectful” to the barmaids, Mr Wylde challenged him to a fight outside.
Mr Burns told Liverpool crown court he agreed but only so he could lock the fire door on him.
But in evidence he said that as he got to the door he heard Mr Wylde, 32, say: “I’m going to f****** stab you.”
He said that, fearing for his life, he turned around and punched him.
Mr Burns, of Aldford Close, Prenton, said: “Because of what I know now, I regret doing it, but at the time I couldn’t control what I did. I was scared.”
Mr Wylde suffered a fractured skull and died six days later.
Mr Burns was arrested two days later and Tony Clark, 37, his colleague at SPL International in Prenton, was also arrested.
They were accused of making up the story about the knife because only Mr Burns and Mr Clarke, of Old Chester Road, Birkenhead, had heard it.
People in the bar also said they overhead them saying “just say it was self defence” and offering to provide each other with a false alibi.
But that evidence was dismissed by the jury who took just under three hours to find both men not guilty of perverting the course of justice and Mr Burns not guilty of manslaughter.
Both Mr Burns and Mr Clark declined to speak after the hearing.
But Mr Burns’s solicitor John Weate said: “He told me he feels an overwhelming sense of relief rather than any euphoria.”
On some occasions during the court proceedings, it was stated that the incident took place at Yates's Wine Lodge and we accurately reported this. However, we wish to make it clear the pub is now known as The Wine Lodge and the bar has no connection with the Yates’s brand or the Stonegate Pub Company, who own and operate Yates’s. The site in Birkenhead was sold by the firm several years ago.