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Baseball bat killer's friend is convicted

(First Edition)

A MAN was given a jail sentence yesterday for damaging a car with the baseball bat his friend used to murder a stranger during a late-night 'louting' spree.

Andrew Christie, 22, had shouted to Mark Paul not to attack John Lavender, 28, and was cleared of any involvement in his murder on the judge's direction at the start of the Old Bailey trial.

Paul, 21, was jailed for life last Friday for killing Mr Lavender with a single blow on the head from the 3ft bat.

The court heard that before the murder Christie smashed the windscreen of a parked car with the bat in Battersea, south London, as he and Paul went on a wrecking spree after drinking and smoking cannabis.

Christie, a camera salesman, who admitted criminal damage, was jailed for four and a half months. But the judge, Mr Justice Hobhouse, later varied the sentence to one of three months to ensure his immediate release as 'he should serve no further time in the light of the period he has already served' in custody.

Christie, who shared a flat with Paul in Battersea, had told police they took the bat, which he hid up his sleeve, to go 'louting' - damaging cars. He was ordered to pay pounds 100 to the car's owner.