The family of Hailsham dad Darren Croxton gave their reaction to the verdicts at Lewes Crown Court yesterday (Friday February 22).
“We are pleased that the 17-year-old has been convicted of manslaughter but disappointed that Stuart Johnson was acquitted,” they said at the end of the six-week jury trial.
“Darren did not deserve this tragic ending to his young life, he leaves behind a child who has to grow up without her father.
“We are all devastated and feel that the huge whole left in our lives by his death will never be filled.
“We would like to thank everybody who have helped and worked on the investigation for all their hard work and dedication.”
The 17 year old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to seven years in detention for the fatal sabbing of the 25-year-old.
Stuart Johnson, 19, of no fixed abode, was found not guilty of murder and the alternative charge of manslaughter.
Detective Chief Inspector Jeff Riley, who led the investigation, said: “This has been a tragic set of events and the untimely death of Darren has had a significant impact on his family, relatives and the local Hailsham community.
“I hope that today’s verdict in which one of the defendants has been found guilty will help to give all those who knew and loved Darren some form of closure.
“Sussex Police carried out a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Darren’s death and we respect the judgement of the court following the acquittal of Stuart Johnson.
“The defendant is very young and I hope that having been found guilty of such a serious offence and facing a prison term, it will give him cause to reflect on the outcome of his devastating actions on the night Darren was fatally injured.
“By fleeing the scene of the crime and not accepting the role he played in Darren’s death he has put Darren’s family through the stressful and traumatic process of a murder trial.
“I also hope his conviction will serve as a warning to other teenagers who decide to carry and use knives.”
Wealden Neighbourhood Inspector Tony Wakefield said: “Our thoughts are with Darren’s family, his friends and the local community directly affected by his death. “We will continue to work with the Hailsham community and would urge anyone who has concerns to please speak to local officers.”