A ROUGH sleeper who knifed a former friend 32 times then ‘whooped in celebration’ when told of his death has been found not guilty of murder.

Paul Taylor, aged 50, was instead found guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility at Winchester Crown Court on Tuesday.

Sentencing has been adjourned so a psychiatric report can be prepared.

Taylor stabbed Ryan Merna multiple times at Greenwood Cottages in Wessex Road, Ashley Cross, on August 14 last year.

The court heard officers were called to reports of a fight and the sound of screaming coming from a ground floor flat around 1.35pm.

When officers arrived, one spotted Taylor, who is currently a patient at Broadmoor, coming out of the side of the flats.

She challenged him and he stopped, raised his bloodstained hands and said: “Best get in there. Hopefully he’s dead by now.”

When police arrived, they discovered art graduate Mr Merna lying motionless in a communal area of the block of flats. He had been stabbed multiple times and a kitchen knife was lodged in his chest.

Despite their best efforts the 29-year-old, who lived in one of the flats and worked as an assistant curator at Compton Acres, died at the scene.

Taylor was arrested at the scene and when cautioned, replied: “I hope I’ve murdered him. That would make my day. Go on cheer me up and tell me he’s dead.”

He then “whooped and shouted” in “celebration”, the jury was told earlier.

Mr Merna met Taylor while both were inpatients at St Ann’s Hospital in Haven Road, Poole. The two had briefly lived together in Mr Merna’s flat because Taylor was homeless.

However, the arrangement had broken down and Mr Merna had asked the defendant to move out.

In a statement, Mr Merna’s family said: “Ryan was a very much-loved son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend who meant a great deal to us.

“This past year without Ryan as part of our lives has been very difficult and we, his family, will continue to think of him as the kind, generous, sensitive boy he was.”

Taylor should be sentenced at Winchester Crown Court within the next two months.

Detective Sergeant Mark Fossey said: “I hope the verdict will bring some sense of closure for Ryan’s family and friends during what has been a very traumatic time.”