Carer not guilty of killing suspected burglar he pinned down during citizen's arrest

  • Watch Robert Murphy's report

A carer who restrained a suspected burglar during a citizen's arrest has been cleared of manslaughter.

Craig Wiltshire lost consciousness and never recovered after Nathan Smith knelt on his back for nine minutes on November 20, 2019.

The 43-year-old died as a result of catastrophic brain damage in hospital two weeks later on December 4.

Smith, 38, was on trial for manslaughter at Bristol Crown Court, but today (January 26) was found not guilty by a jury.

During the trial the court heard Mr Wiltshire was suspected of being behind a string of burglaries and car break-ins in a suburb of Bristol.

Nathan Smith said he did not intend to cause Mr Wiltshire any harm. Credit: Liz Cooke.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of the incident, in which Mr Wiltshire can be heard telling Smith he cannot breathe.

The prosecution told the jury insults Smith directed at Mr Wiltshire were proof he wanted to publish the alleged thief.

The defence argued Smith was "public spirited" and not acting as a vigilante.

Watch the moment Craig Wiltshire was tackled to the ground as part of a citizen's arrest

The jury took four hours and seven minutes of deliberations to reach a not guilty verdict.

Mr Smith thanked the jury with a prayer sign as he was discharged from the dock.

Smith's employer Michael Crooks and his son Ben Crooks both admitted a charge of common assault in relation to the incident.

CCTV showed Michael Crooks added his weight to Mr Wiltshire for a few minutes during the incident while Ben Crooks was seen kicking him twice.

The court heard their actions did not cause the death of Mr Wiltshire and they were not charged with manslaughter.

Police body camera footage of the moment officers came across the citizen's arrest

Speaking after the verdict, Det Supt James Riccio from Avon and Somerset Police said: “This has been an extremely complex and sensitive investigation into the death of a 43-year-old man. “Members of the jury have listened to all the evidence and concluded Mr Smith is not guilty of manslaughter. We respect and accept the jury’s verdict. “Mr Wiltshire’s family have been supported throughout by a specially trained liaison officer. “We recognise these legal proceedings will greatly impact the affected community and we would urge anyone with worries or concerns to speak to their Neighbourhood Policing Team.”