LONDON: British national Kiaran Stapleton was today found guilty of the murder of an Indian student Anuj Bidve on December 26.
Kiaran Stapleton, who once called himself 'Psycho' Stapleton in a court hearing, had earlier admitted manslaughter but not murder, on grounds of diminished responsibility, but his plea was not accepted by prosecutors and the case went to trial from June 25.
The trial which lasted a little over one month was attended by Bidve's parents Mr Subhash and Ms Yogini, who had arrived from Pune.
The jury, which retired earlier today to consider its verdict, took 90 minutes to reach the 'guilty' decision. The verdict that Stapleton was guilty of murder, and not manslaughter as he had pleaded, is likely to lead to a more stringent punishment.
After the verdict was announced, Bidve's mother Mr Yogini cried while his father Mr Subhash bowed in his seat and later held his hands to his face.
Bidve, who was studying Micro-electronics at Lancaster University, was walking to the Boxing Day sales with eight friends when he was shot dead on December 26 without warning at Ordsall Lane, Salford.
The case sparked outrage in the UK and India, and top British officials gave assurances that Britain was a safe place for Indian students to come and study. The police came in for praise for their handling of the case.
"Justice has been done. The Bidve family have shown great dignity throughout this sad time. The trial has been painful for them and I hope this verdict will allow them to rebuild their lives without their beloved son Anuj", the Senior Labour leader, Mr Keith Vaz, said soon after the jury returned the guilty verdict. The judge will sentence Stapleton tomorrow.
Soon after the verdict, the parents of Bidve said their son had come to the United Kingdom in September 2011 and he carried with him the "hopes and dreams of all our family".
"Instead, in the early hours of Boxing Day morning, Stapleton, cold bloodedly and brutally murdered our son. Stapleton had never met our son and did not know anything about him," they said in a statement.
Stapleton, in the blink of an eye, and the time it took a bullet to leave the gun he was holding, turned Anuj's hopes and dreams into our living and continuous nightmare, they said.
Stapleton had three plans to try and get away with murdering our son. The first was to deny any involvement, the second was to blame someone else and when they both failed he decided to try diminished responsibility, Bidves said.
"Throughout the proceedings Stapleton maintained his defence of diminished responsibility and made us all sit through five weeks of harrowing evidence," the statement said. Whilst giving his evidence in this trial Stapleton grinned, smiled and openly laughed at the memory of our son and at one stage looked towards the jury and pointed to his face saying, 'Look at this face. Does it look bothered?' they said.
The jury decided that his final plan of diminished responsibility was another failed exercise and, in fact, concluded that he had carried out the brutal and totally unnecessary murder of Anuj, they said.
"Our son, Anuj, was the kindest and most genuine person on this earth. He knew the difference between right and wrong and lived his life the right way. Kiaran Stapleton is the complete opposite and yet he is the one who is still alive and our son is dead," Bidves said.
The family thanked the Greater Manchester Police and the Indian High Commission, Crown Prosecution Service, the Witness Service and all the people involved in the trial process.
"We will now return to India, far sadder, and will take with us only the memories of our beloved son Anuj," they said in the statement.