A JURY has cleared a Leeds man of murdering his friend who died six days after a "prolonged and gratuitous" attack in a pub car park, but convicted him of manslaughter.
The Leeds Crown Court jury spent around three hours deliberating today (Weds April 25) before unanimously finding 26-year-old Aaron Bellas not guilty of murdering father-of-two Andrew Hullah, 49.
The jury unanimously found Bellas guilty of Mr Hullah's manslaughter following a trial
Bellas is due to be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court at 10.30am on Thursday (April 26).
The jury was told lorry driver Mr Hullah was struck repeatedly by Bellas, 26, in the car park outside The Shoulder of Mutton pub, on Howden Clough Road, Morley, in the early hours of October 28 last year.
CCTV footage was also played which appeared to show Bellas kicking Mr Hullah.
Leeds United supporter Mr Hullah dialled 999 as he lay with fatal injuries.
He had suffered a fractured skull and bleeding to his brain.
Mr Hullah's condition worsened and he died in hospital six days later, on November 3.
The men were friends and both lived at accommodation attached to the pub.
The court heard Mr Hullah leaves two children and two grandchildren.
Reading a victim impact statement from his sister Tracy Sharpe, prosecutor James Gelsthorpe said: "On November 3 after an extremely difficult and heartbreaking decision the life support was turned off. It was absolutely devastating for mum and dad to be in that position and have to make that terrible decision."
"Andrew no longer being part of our lives will continue to hurt us, especially in the horrible way he was taken from us."
Mr Gelsthorpe told the court Mr Hullah was subjected to a "prolonged and gratuitous" attack, adding: "He was dealt multiple severe blows, including a stamp on the leg which resulted in a severe leg fracture."
Mr Gelsthorpe said the attack lasted 15 minutes and included several heavy punches while Mr Hullah was on the floor.
The court heard Bellas has a partner and three young children.
John Batchelor, mitigating for Bellas, said: "They went out that night as friends. It couldn't be said this defendant went out for anything other than a pleasant evening. It cannot be said he went out with any malice that night."
The jury was told that Bellas left Mr Hullah "senseless" on the ground after the attack and set about covering up what he had done.
Mr Hullah used his mobile phone to dial 999 as he lay in pain.
He told an operator: "I have got a broken ankle. I have been battered, I can't move.
"I'm laid on my back. I need somebody here now. Just hurry up please before I die."
The court heard Bellas removed CCTV camera footage from the pub and fled as police arrived.
The footage was later recovered.
The jury was told it was not immediately obvious that Mr Hullah had suffered a serious head injury.
Bellas had pleaded not guilty to murder and not guilty to an alternative charge of manslaughter.
The prosecution said the background to the attack had been over the closure of the Shoulder of Mutton.
The pub had shut down weeks before the incident.
Bellas told the court he did not mean to cause his friend serious harm when he attacked him and said Mr Hullah may have suffered fatal injuries after falling and hitting his head on a gatepost.