A MAN who got into a fight with a former friend over his alleged drug use has been acquitted of manslaughter.

A jury of seven women and five men took two hours to find Steven McDonald, 29, not guilty of the manslaughter of "gentle giant" Graeme Dawes.

Teesside Crown Court had heard that Mr McDonald went round to Mr Dawes' home, at Howcroft Avenue, Redcar, last June, after hearing that he and his partner were on heroin.

Following a confrontation at the front door, Mr McDonald, of Wilton Avenue, Dormanstown, went round to the back of the house and a fight broke out.

Witnesses said that Mr Dawes, who suffered from a serious heart condition, restrained Mr McDonald in a bear hug.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Dawes collapsed. Mr McDonald gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and heart massage until paramedics arrived, but he later died.

James Goss QC, prosecuting, said the stress of the fight brought on a heart attack.

He said Mr McDonald turned up at his former friend's house after spending the afternoon drinking and fought with Mr Dawes despite knowing of his illness.

Witnesses said Mr McDonald was against drug taking and testified that he had used threats and violence to drive addicts from the neighbourhood.

The defendant, who declined to give evidence, told police he had only gone to Mr Dawes' house to talk to him. He denied knowing of his heart condition.

After the verdict, Mr Dawes' father, John, said: "A lot of people came here to give evidence and it doesn't seem as if it's been accepted."