Adelaide pair acquitted of headlock murder

Rick Goodman

Two men have been found not guilty of murdering a man who was found dead and half naked near the entrance of a service station in Adelaide.

Arley Lee Maher, 26, and Tyson Mark Fleming, 27, were accused of killing Frederick Collins by putting him in a headlock and kicking him but they were acquitted of murder and manslaughter on Thursday.

Maher and Fleming were robbing the 49-year-old at the time and pleaded guilty to that offence.

However the Supreme Court ruled that while Maher had put Mr Collins in a headlock that likely killed him, he had not intended to kill him or cause grievous bodily harm.

"It is reasonably possible that the headlock was applied for only a relatively short period of time and with only a relatively light force," Justice Sam Doyle said in his judgment.

"I do not consider that I can infer beyond reasonable doubt an intention to cause grievous bodily harm.

"The position may well have been otherwise if there was evidence that Mr Collins had fallen unconscious or gone limp.

"However the evidence does not support such a finding."

Mr Collins had also been scuffling with Fleming when Maher pulled him off in the headlock, and it was possible he was acting in defence of the co-accused.

The body of Mr Collins was found naked from the waist down about an hour after the late-night altercation in Woodville.

"There was a half-naked man lying in the gutter, with clothes scattered all over the grass," Justice Sam Doyle said.

Prosecutors said Fleming and Maher stripped Mr Collins after the scuffle but the judge could not rule out it being another passer-by searching for money or drugs.

"However, I find that at least his socks, jeans and boxer shorts were removed after the altercation," he said.

Forensic doctors found the victim died of neck compression but he had also taken amphetamines and it was possible these alone had been lethal.

They could not make exact findings on the duration and force of the headlock but said the neck injuries were minor.

Maher and Fleming will return to court for sentencing submissions for the robbery on April 12.