Family left to 'pick up the pieces' after Gosport man cleared of murdering his brother
A FAMILY has been left to ‘pick up the pieces’ after a man accused of stabbing his brother to death in a row over a pillowcase was cleared of murder.
Emotions ran high as Mark Oliver, 56, was found not guilty by jurors at Winchester Crown Court after nine hours and 16 minutes of deliberation.
Prosecutors alleged he stabbed his scaffolder brother Andrew, 53, twice in the body and inflicted three knife wounds to his body in a struggle on February 1 in Harwood Road, Bridgemary, Gosport.
But today jurors who have heard the 10-day trial cleared him of murder.
Family members of the two brothers wept in the public galley as Mr Oliver was told he was able to leave the courtroom a freeman after five months remanded in custody.
Wearing a white face mask and grey shirt and jeans, Mr Oliver walked out of the court supported by his two older sisters, Mandy and Tina.
The 56-year-old declined to speak about the court hearing, with family members saying he was a ‘deeply personal man’.
But in a statement, the Oliver family told The News the court case and death of Andrew had left them all devastated.
The family said: ‘It has been awful for the whole family. There have been no winners in all of this. We have all lost a much, much loved brother.
‘But the decision by the jury has given has been the right one.’
The office worker had denied murdering dad-of-two Andrew and instead told jurors he had been the victim of a vicious attack after a ‘childish’ argument over an ‘Egyptian cotton’ pillowcase.
He lived with his younger sibling at the home they shared with their 86-year-old mother Jean.
Giving evidence this week, Mr Oliver said he was assaulted by Andrew, and admitted to then picking up one of two knives he had earlier told the court he ‘had been sharpening’ while watching the Wales vs Italy Six Nations rugby match and ‘held it towards’ his brother’s face.
‘I wanted to scare Andrew off,’ he said. ‘I wanted to snap him out of it and bring him back.’
Epileptic Mr Oliver told the court how he kept his head down to avoid more punches but raised the hand with the knife in and ‘pushed’ his brother away.
During a cross-examination, prosecutor Andrew Houston, said Mr Oliver had lost his temper and attacked his brother.
But Mr Oliver refuted this and told jurors he had ‘never intended’ to stab his brother.
The court heard how introverted Mr Oliver had been in a ‘state of shock’ when he heard of Andrew’s death, after having previously given his brother first aid.
‘Up until then I thought it was just another one of these spats, so to speak, and that Andrew had a minor injury. I was fully expecting him to come to the police station later and explain everything – then I found out he was dead,’ he told the jury during his trial. ‘He was my brother.’
Speaking after the case Detective Chief Inspector Roger Wood said the ordeal had had a huge impact on the Oliver family.
He added: ‘Following the jury’s verdict and the conclusion of the court case our thoughts remain with Andrew’s friends and family who have been left to pick up the pieces following his death.’
Mr Oliver has no previous convictions. He had been held on remand since February until yesterday.