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Crouch End man cleared of murdering acclaimed deaf actor in Islington

17:26 02 June 2014

Vitalis Katakina died a week after he was punched in Islington.

Vitalis Katakina died a week after he was punched in Islington.

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A Crouch End man accused of killing a deaf Shakespeare actor with a single punch broke down in tears as he walked free from court.

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Matthew Powe was acquitted of murder and the lesser alternative of manslaughter at the Old Bailey jury on Monday.

The 30-year-old had told the court he was acting in self defence when hit Vitalis Katakinas - acclaimed for his performance in a deaf production of Shakespeare’s Love Labour’s Lost - at the White Swan Pub, in Highbury, on June 29 last year.

Mr Katakinas suffered severe head injuries and died a week later.

Medical experts claimed the punch was delivered with enough force to twist the victim’s head and tear the vertebral artery.

Jurors heard how Powe got in the middle of an argument between the Mr Katakinas, who he did not know, and another deaf man, who was one of Powe’s teammates in Barnet Deaf FC.

Team captain Powe told them to “lay off” and branded them both “thick”. Mr Katakinas responded by knocking his glasses off.

Powe, of Inderwick Road, then put his glasses back on before lashing out.

Witnesses described Powe tackling Mr Katakinas and dumping him to the ground, causing his head to hit a step. The prosecution claimed Powe had acted out of revenge after consuming a cocktail of cocaine, alcohol and cannabis.

But Powe told the jury he was trying to act as a peacemaker because there were children around.

“I could see they were signing in an intimidating way and the signing was offensive and violent.

“I wanted to get Thomas away. I was captain of the Barnet football club so I felt it was my duty to get him away.

“My only intention was to calm things down.”

Powe added: “I didn’t mean this to happen.”

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