Verdict is imminent in the Menson murder trial

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The Independent Online

An Old Bailey jury trying two men accused of murdering black rock musician Michael Menson retired to consider its verdict.

An Old Bailey jury trying two men accused of murdering black rock musician Michael Menson retired to consider its verdict.

Mr Menson, 30, was turned into a human torch but police at first failed to treat his death as murder, believing he had set fire to himself, the court has heard.

He suffered terrible burns which covered 30% of his body.

One of his alleged killers later said his death was a joke which went wrong - but also said, according to prosecution witnesses: "So what, he was black."

Police did not arrest anyone for two years.

Mr Nigel Sweeney, prosecuting, told the jury at the trial's opening: "At first, against the background that Mr Menson appeared to be in a trance-like state by those who went to help him, it was thought by some of them - in particular the two police officers - that Mr Menson had set fire to himself.

"Thus it was that at that stage, the scene was not preserved by police as it should have been - nor were other steps taken which should have been."

Mr Menson, the son of a Ghanaian diplomat, was a successful musician in the 1980s, but had suffered psychiatric problems in the last few years.

Mario Pereira, 26, a student, and unemployed Harry Charalambous Constantinou, 26, both of Edmonton, north London, deny murdering Mr Menson.

Mr Sweeney said Ozguy Cevat, 24, a third man allegedly involved in the attack, had fled to Northern Cyprus on February 5, and had not returned.

Pereira and Constantinou also deny with Husseyin Abdullah, 50, unemployed of Edmonton, a further charge of perverting the course of justice by obstructing the police investigation.

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