A man has been cleared of murdering a neighbour in Motherwell during the festive season last year.
David Lander walked free after a not proven verdict at the High Court in Glasgow.
He was accused of murdering Gerry McGeough (56) by battering him on the head repeatedly with a baseball bat or similar weapon.
The men lived close to each other in Watson Street.
Mr McGeough’s body was found at his home on January 3 this year. He hadn’t been seen over the Christmas period and the charge alleged Lander (54) murdered him between December 17 and January 3.
The nine-day trial heard Lander was charged after he made incriminating phone calls to the police. However, he stated in court that he was drunk at the time and what he had told officers was rubbish.
Lander had been released from a jail sentence shortly before Mr McGeough’s death. He said he had seen his friend after his release, but denied having anything to do with the killing.
There was no eyewitness evidence led and the defence pointed out that forensic experts had come up with no DNA, fingerprint or fibre evidence to link the accused to the scene.
Mr McGeough’s violent death shocked friends and neighbours in Avon Street, Motherwell, where he formerly lived. He once worked as a slabber and ran his own business, and he had a grown-up family but lived alone at the time of his death.
One former neighbour said: “Gerry was a lovely man who helped the older people in the street with their gardens.”
Another described him as unfailingly polite while, writing on Facebook, a friend described Mr McGeough as “a true gentleman”.
After the verdict, Rhonda Anderson, solicitor-advocate for Lander, said her client was “pleased and relieved” at the outcome.
She added: “This has been a tragic case for Mr McGeough’s family, a harrowing one to be involved in.”
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