Date: 31 Jul 2015
Michael Mearns was beaten with a brick on Thursday 30 July 2015 and died the following day on Friday 31 July 2015.
A 20-year-old man was tried for his murder but acquitted after the case against him was found not proven.
Michael Mearns was found behind an electricity sub-station near the gates of Greenock Cemetery at about 8pm on 30 July 2015.
Following Michael Mearns's discovery, the police carried out an investigation and on 18 August 2015 appealed for three teenagers that had been seen walking past Greenock Cemetery to come forward. They had been seen coming out of a shop in South Street and then walking past the cemetery. The 20-year-old man was later charged on 26 August 2015.
The 20-year-old man said that he found Michael Mearns lying on the ground behind the electricity sub-station.
The 20-year-old man had been with a friend on the night, going to Larkfield, and said that he told him that he was desperate to go to the toilet and had then headed off to the back of the electricity sub-station where he saw Michael Mearns. He said, 'I walked towards the sub-station. My plan was to go to at the wall. I was just about to do the toilet when something caught my eye. I turned round and saw a man curled up with blood round his head'.
It was heard that the 20-year-old man and his friend then called for the police and also tried to get some passers-by to help.
When the police and ambulance arrived, Michael Mearns was found to be unconscious and he was taken to the Inverclyde Royal Hospital where he died the next day.
The pathologist said that his cause of death was a head injury which he thought had been caused by a blow but noted that he could not rule out a fall being the cause of his injuries.
The court also heard that Michael Mearns had a drinking problem and a history of falls and had been admitted to the accident and emergency department at Inverclyde Royal Hospital eighteen times in the previous twelve months.
However, at the trial, the prosecution said that the 20-year-old man had walked over to the electricity sub-station where he had argued briefly with Michael Mearns and had then hit him over the head with a brick or stone and that the whole thing had happened in less than 45 seconds.
It was also heard at the trial that the 20-year-old man had confessed to the murder to friends. However, the 20-year-old man said in court that his confession was taken out of context. He said that by 31 July 2015, the death of Michael Mearns was the talk of the town and that his friends were winding him up about it. He said that they were saying to him that he had done it and that he had replied at one point, 'aye it was me', but said that he had just said that to get them off his back, adding that they just wouldn't let it go.
The jury deliberated for three hours before finding the case against the 20-year-old man not proven.