Five men have been cleared of holding a homeless man hostage, beating him and setting fire to his face.
One of the men was also cleared of trying to buy the man’s silence.
The jury at Preston Crown Court took almost 13 hours to reach the verdicts of not guilty on all counts relating to David Potts, Jonathon Stemburski, Allan Smith, Andrew Southern and Josh Rollinson.
As they foreman replied “not guilty” to each of the charges the defendants wiped tears from their eyes as they look forward to their release from custody.
John Nugent was found dazed and confused in Topping Street, Blackpool with injuries to his face and body and scorch marks to his hair.
He was seen on CCTV collecting his methadone prescription from a chemist in the resort seven hours previously.
In the hours in between his last sighting on CCTV and being found crying and distressed, he claimed he had been held captive at Stemburki’s flat in Church Street, Blackpool, in a row about a woman.
He said along with the repeated threats, punches and kicks, one of the men used a can of Lynx and a lighter to set fire to his face.
However the five men denied the allegation and the jury accepted Mr Nugent’s version of events was not strong enough to convict them.
Each of the men was cleared of wounding with intent and false imprisonment following a two week trial.
Rollinson was also cleared of attempting to pervert the course of justice after it was alleged he had offered Mr Nugent money to withdraw his complaint.
As the jury of nine women and three men left court, the defendants shouted: “Thank you, thank you all” from the dock.
They hugged each other and wiped tears from their eyes.
Jon Close, prosecuting, asked the judge to consider making a restraining order in respect of the defendants and Mr Nugent.
David Potts, 32, of Salthouse Avenue, Blackpool, Josh Rollinson, 18, of King Street, Blackpool, Allan Smith, 37, of Lynn Grove, Blackpool, Andrew Southern, 36, of Lynn Grove, Blackpool and Jonathan Stemburski, 35, of Church Street, Blackpool will now be released from custody after being on remand for the duration of the trial.