A MAN has been found guilty of the murder of John Lewis in Middlesbrough.

Jonathan Porritt was accused of plunging a knife into the heart of John Lewis following a violent confrontation over a stolen bike and mobile phone.

The 28-year-old, of Crescent Road, Middlesbrough, remained impassive as the verdict was read out.

Members of Mr Lewis’ family and friends cheered and many burst into tears and left the courtroom.

The fatal incident happened in May this year when members of the Smith family went on a mission to recover the stolen goods.

Stephen Smith, along with his best friend Mr Lewis, confronted Porritt about the robbery and violence soon erupted.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Porritt picked up a knife and plunged it into the heart of Mr Lewis causing fatal injuries.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Robinson welcomed the verdict.

She said: “Jonathon Porritt is a violent and dangerous man. Today, he has been found guilty of murder.

“My thoughts remain with John Lewis’ family and friends, and in particular his young daughter, Leah, who is now going to have to grow up without her Dad.

“I would like to thank the witnesses who gave evidence. They have shown immense bravery, and also the Victim Care and Advice Service (VCAS) who have supported the witnesses throughout.

“As we have seen in this case, situations involving weapons can quickly get out of control and end in tragedy.

“It is not normal to carry a knife and it should never be the norm.

“Anyone considering carrying a knife should think twice, the consequences can be devastating.”

Chris Atkinson of the CPS said: “When Stephen Smith and John Lewis attended the address of Jonathan Porritt, he tried unsuccessfully to hide himself from them. When discovered, an argument between the men ensued and this culminated in Porritt’s fatal stabbing of John Lewis.

“During police interview, Porritt claimed to have been acting in self-defence, painting the two men as the aggressors in an attempt to avoid being punished for his actions. However, the Crown Prosecution Service has drawn on eye-witness accounts and medical evidence to systematically dismantle Porritt’s false account over the course of this trial.

“It is abundantly clear from the evidence presented in this case that Porritt himself was the aggressor and, since the attack, has shown no remorse for his actions. We would hope that today’s conviction of Jonathon Porritt provides a measure of comfort to the family and friends of John Lewis at what must be a very difficult time for them.”

Judge Stephen Ashurst said the defendant will be sentenced on Friday.