Jury delivers manslaughter verdict over boat death

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A man accused of stabbing his partner to death on the houseboat where they lived was today found not guilty of murder.

However the jury of seven women and five men at Maidstone Crown Court in Kent found Kenneth Harman, 55, guilty of manslaughter following 12 hours and 52 minutes of deliberations.

The 17-day trial was told that Harman phoned 999 from the Impulse boat where he lived with Michael Castle on the River Medway in Tonbridge.

During the call on the afternoon of 15 February, Harman told emergency services he went out, but came back to the vessel to discover "blood everywhere" and his partner dead.

Paramedics found Mr Castle, 61, lifeless with a stab wound to his chest the court was told.

Jonathan Higgs, prosecuting, alleged that the account Harman gave emergency services was "a deliberate set of lies to try to get away with what he had in fact done, which was to stab and kill his partner".

On the day of the killing, the couple had a series of heated rows and they regularly argued, the court was told.

Speaking following the verdict, Judge Michael Lawson QC said: "The person he killed was a partner or close friend. It inevitably occurred while both were the worse for alcohol and it would appear that it must have blown up very quickly.

"It involved the picking up of a weapon and in these circumstances a sentence of imprisonment seems to be inevitable."

Judge Lawson adjourned Harman's sentencing until 2pm today.