Louis Hackett: Man Found Guilty Of Killing Kieran Williams In Sunderland
A man has been cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter after the body of a teenager was discovered in a makeshift grave at a derelict industrial site. The victim had died from multiple stab wounds. Another defendant who lied to police about the whereabouts of the missing victim for weeks before his body was found, walked away from court a free man.
The body of 18-year-old Kieran Williams was discovered by a police dog team in a makeshift grave in Sunderland last year.
Louis Hackett, 20, and Ben Cook, 19, were accused of murder - both men denied the charges.
In an unexpected twist in the tragic story, a jury found Hackett, of Fordenbridge Square, Sunderland, not guilty of murder but found him guilty of manslaughter on a majority verdict.
Cook, of Fordfield Road, was acquitted of murder and allowed to walk out of court a completely free man.
The jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on one of the defendants after hours of deliberations. Today (February 2), the Judge, Mr Justice Robert Kay told jurors he would accept a majority verdict where at least 10 members were in agreement.
45 minutes later the jury returned to deliver the verdict.
Hackett was remanded into custody while a report is prepared and a date for sentencing is confirmed.
Mr Williams was found in a makeshift grave in a secluded tree-lined area on a former industrial site, near the new Northern Spire Bridge on the southern banks of the River Wear in June last year.
The 18-year-old had been stabbed multiple times and died from blood loss.
The jury at Newcastle Crown Court were told how both defendants denied having any knowledge of the whereabouts of the victim for weeks before his body was discovered.
When police found Mr Williams' partly decomposed body, it was almost six weeks after his disappearance. Forensic examination of the soil at the burial site revealed Mr Hackett's finger prints on lumps of clay.
When Hackett was confronted with the new evidence he changed his story and confessed to being present when the victim was killed. However, he attempted to lay the blame solely on Cook, saying he was the one who stabbed Mr Williams and that he was ordered to help place the body in the pre-dug grave. He claimed he only agreed to help as his co-accused was still holding the knife.
Cook told police how it was in fact Hackett that carried out the killing and recalled how he watched in shock before being told to leave the scene and to tell no-one what had happened.
The prosecution claimed that both men were involved in the plot to lure Mr Williams to the scene with the full intention of killing him - before one of them did kill him, and was assisted by the accomplice. Somehow the jury completely cleared Cook of all charges.
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