Kent

Lee Webster guilty of pills-in-beer 'prank' killing

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Media captionLee Webster was convicted of manslaughter at Maidstone Crown Court

A man has been found guilty of killing his friend by putting 27 anti-depressant tablets into his drink.

Lee Webster, 26, of Harmer Street, Gravesend, Kent, was convicted of the manslaughter of Jason Wood at Maidstone Crown Court.

He had denied the charge, claiming he slipped the Mirtazapine pills into Mr Wood's beer as a practical joke.

The court was told Mr Wood, also aged 30 and who had dwarfism, died hours after the prank on 22 October.

Post-mortem tests showed he had fluid on his lungs and the pathologist concluded he died from an overdose of Mirtazapine in combination with excess alcohol.

The court heard Webster did not mention that he had put the pills into Mr Wood's drink until a month after his death.

Mr Wood's sister, Tracey West, told the jury she received a message from the defendant on Facebook, which said: "Hi Tracey, it's Lee. What's happened with Jason's autopsy?"

'Stupid thing'

When she told him there was no news, he wrote: "Tracey, I'm so sorry, I put 27 of my Mirtazapine tablets in Jason's beer that night."

She then asked: "Why didn't you say anything before?" She received no reply.

In the closing speeches Oliver Saxby QC, defending, told the jury: "I want to make this clear, there was nothing in the least bit funny in what Lee Webster did on 22 October.

"Yes they were friends, yes it was meant to be a prank but he didn't intend to cause him harm.

"They were all under the effect of alcohol. It may have been that Jason drank the beer knowing one of his mates had done it.

"On any analysis, it was a stupid thing to have done."

The court heard Mr Wood had been diagnosed with moderate obstructive sleep apnoea, which would cause his airway to collapse between 20 to 25 times a night, and Webster's defence team argued other factors might have caused his death.

Webster had also an denied an alternative charge of administering a poison or noxious substance.

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