20-year-old found not guilty of double murder in Brentwood

Frankie Watson on trial for murder of Romford boys

Frankie Watson has been acquitted of murder, manslaughter and wounding with intent at Basildon Crown Court - Credit: Essex Police

A man charged with murdering two 16-year-old boys in Brentwood last year has been found not guilty.

Frankie Watson, 20, of Baker Street, Orsett, stood accused of murdering Romford boys Charlie Preston and Frankie Gater in Regency Court in the early hours of October 24.

He was acquitted of all but one charge by jurors at Basildon Crown Court today - Wednesday, July 20 - after some 25 hours of deliberations.

Watson was found not guilty of two counts of murder and two counts of manslaughter.

Jurors also returned a not guilty verdict on one count of wounding with intent, which related to a third boy who sustained serious injuries during the incident.

The jury did convict Watson on the final count, finding him guilty of having a bladed article.

Watson had told the court during the trial that he carried the knife to protect himself from possible attack, but this was not accepted as a "good reason" by jurors.

Judge Mr Justice Sweeting handed the 20-year-old a custodial sentence of one year and six months for this offence. 

However, Watson has been released immediately due to time already served.

In sentencing Watson, the judge said this "tragedy" was a reflection of the "culture of carrying knives" that particularly exists among young men.

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Addressing Watson's purported reasons for carrying the weapon, he said: "I am sceptical of carrying it [a knife] as a way of managing anxiety."

Very rarely is there a good reason for carrying a weapon of any type in public, the judge concluded.

Mr Justice Sweeting was "wary" of considering Watson's decision to discard the weapon in the aftermath as an aggravating feature of the offence. 

He mused that this choice may have reflected "a mind in turmoil" as opposed to an indication of his guilt.

The judge warned that the not guilty verdicts are in "no sense a cause for celebration", adding that Watson will have to live with what has happened for the rest of his life.

"If it hasn't sunk in now, it will later," he added.

Watson - who has no previous convictions - was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £156.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges on March 29 this year.