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Bovingdon man, Mark Fagence, found not guilty of manslaughter of former soldier Mark Hopkinson
A man from Apple Cottages, Bovingdon, accused of killing a former soldier who had "hit on" his woman during a drinking session was cleared of manslaughter on Wednesday.
Judge Stephen Gullick ruled that Mark Fagence, 50, from Bovingdon had no case to answer following legal submissions at St Albans Crown Court.
The jury of five men and seven women formerly found him not guilty of the manslaughter of Mark Hopkinson, aged 36, who died on November 6 last year.
When police arrived at Jane Kane's home in Theobold Street they found 14 stone Fagence lying on top of Mr Hopkinson in a darkened room with the television blaring.
The first officer on the scene PC Katie Ball said she saw Jane Kane on the doorstep with a phone in her hand. "I knew she has a problem with alcohol. She was highly intoxicated. She was dishevelled. She was slurring her words. I could smell alcohol. She was crying and not making a lot of sense."
PC Ball struggled to get into the house as a sofa was across the doorway. She said the lights were off, the TV was blaring and she could see a large man lying on the floor.
She shouted to him to wake up but got no response. When she got over to him she said: "I placed my hands on his shoulder to get some kind of reaction. Then I noticed another man on the floor. I said get off him."
Prosecutor Ann Evans said Mr Hopkinson was unconscious, blue in the face and did not have a pulse. He did not respond when he was "shocked" to try to get his heart started and he was pronounced dead an hour later in hospital.
She told the jury all three people - Jane Kane, Mark Fagence and Mark Hopkinson - were addicted to alcohol.
Two months before Mr Hopkinson died Ms Kane, who is in her 40s, met Fagence at Watford General Hospital and they began a relationship. Ms Kane's daughter Beth said her mother started drinking heavily in September 2011 and suffered depression as well.
The court was told Mark Hopkinson was not a well man and had mental health problems going back to 2001 and shortly afterwards suffered alcohol addiction as well. After leaving the army he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. He hadn't been able to work for a number of years and had tried detox programmes.
He also met Mark Fagence in Watford General Hospital where they were both being treated for alcohol abuse and would go outside for a cigarette together.
On November 6, Mark Hopkinson was discharged from hospital. CCTV showed him withdrawing £100 from the cash point at Londis in Vicarage Road, Watford. Mark Fagence was also seen on CCTV buying a litre of vodka, two bottles of wine and some cigarettes.
The men went shopping at Sports Direct in Borehamwood at around ten to three in the afternoon before going to Jane Kane's address.
At some point during the day Ms Kane had what she described as a "bit of a moment" with Mark Hopkinson. Mr Fagence accused him of 'hitting on his woman.' She said she made a 17 minute call to the emergency services after finding the men fighting in her living room.
Mr Fagence was alleged to have told the police: "He got aggressive and I restrained him. I put my weight on him. I'm 14 stone."
When arrested he said: "You nicked me for nothing. I was just holding someone down who self harms himself."
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