Essex

Kevin Malthouse death: Two men cleared of murder

Kevin Malthouse during a match for Tilbury Football Club Image copyright Elliot Mercer
Image caption Kevin Malthouse played for Tilbury Football Club from 2011 to 2014

A man has been cleared of murdering a semi-professional footballer in a fight between two groups.

Kevin Malthouse, 24, played for Tilbury FC and died in Grays, Essex, on 1 July.

Jack Taylor, 19, of Oakley Close, Grays, was alleged to have attacked him and three others after being driven to the location by Dusan Samardzija, 23, of Cypress Path, Romford.

At Chelmsford Crown Court, both men were found not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of Mr Malthouse.

Mr Taylor and Mr Samardzija denied the charges and were also cleared of three counts of grievous bodily harm with intent.

Image caption Flowers were left near the spot where Mr Malthouse died

The court was told Mr Taylor's DNA was found on a "commando kit" of weapons - including a meat cleaver and kitchen knives - at the scene, but he denied it was his property.

After an altercation outside The Treacle Mine pub, Mr Taylor was said to have gone home to get the bag of weapons.

He said he did this because the rival group had threatened to kill him and rape his girlfriend and mother.

The court heard the groups then met at about 00:30 BST on Blackshots Lane and a member of the Tilbury group smashed Mr Samardzija's wing mirror, and a melee followed in which Mr Malthouse, from Stanford-le-Hope, died and three others were injured.

Mr Taylor said: "I never intended to hurt anyone. My idea was to pull one [weapon] out just to scare and threaten them."

Mr Samardzija told police he never left the car during the melee.

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