A MAN tried for an 18-year-old murder following new DNA evidence wept tears of relief as a jury found him not guilty of the crime.

It only took the seven women and five men one hour to clear Francis MacDonald, 55, of strangling Samuel Williamson - and an alternative count of manslaughter - following the three-week trial at Winchester Crown Court.

Mr MacDonald was also charged with the murder in 1988 but released because the case against him was not deemed strong enough to bring before a jury. He was rearrested in Glasgow last year, when Dorset Police began re-examining "cold" unsolved cases in the light of developments in forensic science.

Prosecutor Anthony Donne QC said the evidence against him involved DNA gathered from under Mr Williamson's fingernails at the bloody murder scene and matched to Mr MacDonald.

He added that the defendant's fingerprints were on a lager can found in the crook of the victim's arm and on another can, which had a hair attached to it that was traced to Mr Williamson through recent DNA analysis.

But Mr MacDonald, a father-of-two, denied killing Mr Williamson. He said he had a severe alcohol problem at the time of the killing, and had little recollection of events, but would have remembered witnessing or being involved in a murder.