Michael Phillips death: Three guilty of burglary revenge killing

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Lee Darby, Neil Elliott, Anthony SmallImage source, Cleveland Police
Image caption,
Lee Darby (left) was found guilty of murder while Neil Elliott (centre) and Anthony Small (right) were convicted of manslaughter

Three men including a company director have been found guilty of killing a man in revenge for a burglary.

Michael Phillips, 39, was found with 50 injuries at his home in Rydal Street, Hartlepool, on 10 June last year.

Lee Darby, 32, was found guilty of murder at Teesside Crown Court, while two others were found guilty of manslaughter.

Four other men were cleared of both charges. The convicted men are due to be sentenced on Wednesday.

The court had heard the attack on Mr Phillips was arranged after he was suspected of burgling the home of the daughter of Neil Elliott, a director of the waste firm Niramax.

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Michael Phillips was found with multiple injuries in a house in Hartlepool in June

The court heard Elliott, who was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter, had decided to "take the law into his own hands" and put a post on Facebook saying, "whoever burgled my daughter's home and took her car - your life is about to change, trust me".

Elliott admitted going to Mr Phillips' home but said he had only been inside for four minutes while he retrieved his daughter's possessions.

He claimed he was "dumbstruck" when he later heard Mr Phillips had died.

The full verdicts for the men, all from Hartlepool, were:

  • Lee Darby, 32, of Ridley Court, guilty of murder
  • Neil Elliott, 44, of Briarfield Close, guilty of Phillips' manslaughter and assault causing actual bodily harm on another victim
  • Anthony Small, 40, of Rydal Street, guilty of manslaughter
  • Gary Jackson, 31, of The Darlings, Hart Village, not guilty of murder or manslaughter
  • John Musgrave, 54, of Wordsworth Avenue, not guilty of murder or manslaughter
  • Sean Musgrave, 30, of Wordsworth Avenue, not guilty of murder or manslaughter
  • Craig Thorpe, 36, of Young Street, not guilty of murder or manslaughter

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