England

Boys guilty of homeless Darlington man's killing

Two 15-year-old boys have been found guilty of the manslaughter of a homeless man in Darlington.

The body of George Akers, 59, was found in the grounds of St Cuthbert's Church on 12 June. He had suffered multiple internal injuries.

The pair had denied murder during their two-week trial and the jury acquitted them of that charge, but they were convicted of manslaughter.

They will be sentenced at Teesside Crown Court on 21 December.

The judge, who refused to lift a ban on naming the pair, called for pre-sentence reports.

He warned them they faced custody, and remanded them into the secure care of the local authority.

Mr Akers, who had been sleeping rough in the grounds of the church, had not been in regular work for about 15 years and had spent time at various addresses before ending up on the streets.

He was known to many people in the town and shortly before his death had moved out of a local guest house after complaining it was too noisy.

Rev Robert Williamson, of St Cuthbert's Church in Darlington, said: "People liked George. He came to a lot of our services and took Holy Communion.

"He would come on Sundays and quite often at evenings.

"A lot of the congregation here at St Cuthbert's were very shocked at what happened."

'Appalling injuries'

Det Supt Neil Malkin, of Durham Police, said: "George made his own choices about his particular lifestyle, but he was inoffensive and lots of people in Darlington knew that and respected him for it.

"They also tried to help him in different ways, giving blankets, clothes and sweets.

"The level of violence used against George was extraordinary, he suffered appalling injuries.

"How two young men could carry out such an unprovoked attack on a vulnerable man is beyond words.

"They have rightly been found guilty of manslaughter and hopefully will receive a substantial custodial sentence."

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