A top sports agent with links to Premier League star Ashley Cole and rapper Jay Z was cleared at the Old Bailey today of murdering an 18-year-old man in a “revenge” attack over a stolen BlackBerry phone.
Christopher Nathaniel, 40, who told the court he once helped former prime minister Tony Blair launch an anti-knife crime campaign, was found not guilty along with seven other men of the fatal stabbing of Danny O'Shea.
The teenager died just yards from his mother's home in Canning Town, east London, after being stabbed in the throat on December 2, 2011.
The jury unanimously cleared eight men of murder and conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm after 22 hours of deliberations.
Another defendant, O'Neil Wareham, was also cleared of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm.
Nugent Rowe, 29, from Pinner, Middlesex, was convicted of the murder.
A female juror buried her face in a scarf as the verdicts were read out, while a member of Mr O'Shea's family ran out of the court in tears.
Jurors were told the attack took place a week after Nathaniel's business partner Paul Boadi, 34, had been attacked by as many as seven men when his phone was stolen.
It was alleged that he spoke to Nathaniel and arranged to return to the area with another eight men to hunt for those responsible when Mr O'Shea was killed.
Jurors were told that a Twitter message was published after Mr O'Shea's death, which read: "The element of surprise, such a beautiful thing."
Nathaniel, who was the only defendant not in court to hear the verdict, founded NVA Entertainment group in 2005.
He reportedly brokered a deal between England footballer Ashley Cole and rap star Jay Z in 2011, which saw the pair meet in New York to plan the building of a new London restaurant.
He also worked with Chelsea defender John Terry to negotiate a book deal and helped Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand set up his Live the Dream foundation, according to a biography on his Facebook page.
Nathaniel and Boadi, both of Docklands, east London; David Hylton, 47, from Holborn, central London; Andrew Johnson, 35, and Paul Johnson, 33, all from Harrow, north west London; Ferron Perue, 24, from Birmingham; Kevin Richards, 32, from Harlesden, north London; and Scott Marius, 44, from Clinton Villas, west London, were all cleared of murder and conspiracy to commit grievious bodily harm.
Rowe will be sentenced by Judge Richard Marks QC at 2pm tomorrow.