Date: 1 Sep 1987
Vincent Murray died after being pushed into the River Kennet at Reading in September 1987.
A 29-year-old tramp was tried for his manslaughter but acquitted. He had also be charged with conspiracy to rob.
It was said that Vincent Murray, who was also a tramp, and the tramp had been friends but they had had a drunken brawl over money during which Vincent Murray fell into the river.
The tramp said that he had tried desperately to grab hold of Vincent Murray but could not save him.
He had said that earlier in the day that two other tramps had tried to rob Vincent Murray. He said that all four of them had gone to the riverbank near the Berkeley Avenue Bridge in Reading after a drinking session where violence suddenly flared.
At the trial he said, 'Vincent was sitting down by the river when the other man attacked him. Vincent didn't have a chance. He tried to get up but sat down again. Then the other man kicked him in the face twice'. He said that Vincent Murray then managed to stumble to his feet, saying, 'He was very close to the edge of the river, I ran forward and pulled him away. His face was covered in blood. I thought he had gained his balance. I let go. I heard a splash and turned around, and Vincent was in the river. I tried to pull him out, but I jut grabbed part of his coat'.
The tramp said that they had been good friends and had planned to do burglaries together.
He noted that the fourth man with the group had earlier put a knife to Vincent Murray's throat and demanded his cash 'as a joke'. He said, 'He was laughing and said, 'Give me your money'. Vincent said, 'You'll need more than a knife to get my money''.
However, the prosecution said that the man had lied, lied and lied again to cover his tracks after he had pushed Vincent Murray into the river. The prosecution noted that the fourth man had called the tramp a murderer at the time and that the third man had claimed that it was the tramp that had pushed Vincent Murray into the river.
The prosecution said to the tramp, 'All three of you were part of this crime, a robbery which horribly wrong when you pushed that man into the river. You were prepared to lie for these two and you have lied since. You are lying now, aren't you?'
However, the man replied, No'.
see Reading Evening Post - Thursday 15 October 1987