1. ITV Report

Teen cleared of murder after knifing shopkeeper

Victim Mahesh Wickramasingha was slashed with a fishing knife Photo:

A 19-year-old from Merseyside who stabbed to death a shop worker in a bungled robbery in Huyton has been cleared of murder.

Gambling addict Sam Harrison, of Salerno Drive, Huyton, carried out the raid because he was desperate for cash. He'd already admitted manslaughter and was sentenced to ten years.

The jury had seen shocking video footage of the eight second incident in which he stabbed Sri Lankan father-of-two Mahesh Wickramasingha in the neck severing his jugular vein.

He immediately fled empty handed from Stanley News in Kingsway and threw away the blood stained 10 inch fishing knife and burnt his clothing, which he had worn to disguise his appearance. The knife had penetrated three and three quarter inches and reached his spine.

Harrison, a college student, was a regular customer of the shop and used to chat to the staff, including his victim, who had been in the country for a year trying to earn enough money to provide a better life for his poor family back home.

After they returned a not guilty verdict to murder following three and a half hours deliberations the judge Mrs Justice Swift said his acquittal "might be regarded as merciful".

The court heard that in the days before the killing jobless Harrison had gambled away a £530 gift from his father in Syria, intended to buy and insure a scooter. And on the very night of the killing he lied and begged a cousin to lend him £300 which he gambled with at the betting shop the morning after Mr Wickramasingha's death.

Nicholas Johnson, QC, defending, said that Harrison, who is immature and had had a difficult background, was genuinely remorseful. "He did not intend to cause serious harm albeit he ran a terrible risk," he added.