Arsenal scout’s son, 20, is cleared of murdering two 16-year-olds who had machete and knuckleduster after telling court he was acting in self defence in street fight
- Frankie Watson, 20, stood trial over deaths of Charlie Preston and Frankie Gater
- He was cleared of murder and manslaughter of both of them in Basildon case
- Watson told the jury he had been acting in self-defence after they chased him
- He was jailed for 18 months over a folding knife he had been carrying with him
- Watson’s father, Conan Watson, is head scout for 15 to 16-year-olds at Arsenal
The son of an Arsenal Football Club scout who carried a folding knife with him has been cleared of murdering two teenagers after a jury accepted he was acting in self defence when they died.
Frankie Watson, 20, was being chased by a gang including two armed 16-year-olds in Brentwood, Essex, in the early hours of October 24 last year, the trial at Basildon Crown Court was told.
Charlie Preston, who had a machete, and Frankie Gater, who had a knuckleduster, died of stab wounds, the court heard.
Watson, of Orsett, had told his trial he was defending himself and he was cleared of two charges of murder and two alternative charges of manslaughter.
He was also cleared of a charge of wounding with intent of a third boy who cannot be named for legal reasons who was part of the chasing gang
The lad – whose identity is not known – received serious injuries but survived.
Charlie Preston from Romford (pictured left) died alongside his friend Frankie Gater, also aged 16 (right), after being attacked in the centre of Brentwood, Essex
Frankie Watson, 20, was cleared of murder and manslaughter of both of them in Basildon case
Watson was found guilty of being in possession of an offensive weapon over the folding blade and was jailed for 18 months.
Mr Watson’s father, Conan Watson, is the head scout for 15 to 16-year-olds at Arsenal.
He joined Arsenal as a football scout in 2005 before moving to Manchester United as its Head of London Scouting and Coordinator in 2012.
Five years later, he joined the Football Association (FA) as a scout identifying talented national players. He went on to work at Arsenal as its Head Scout for U16/U15s in February last year.
Forensic officers survey the scene of the incident in Brentwood on Sunday, October 24
The defendant was with three other men when there was an altercation with a second group, which included Charlie and Frankie.
Shortly after, a fight broke out.
Lisa Wilding QC, prosecuting, said Watson had a folding knife on the night the two boys died.
Detectives are not looking for anyone else in connection with the boys’ deaths, the force added.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Truss, who led the investigation, said: ‘This is an absolutely tragic case in which two 16-year-old boys needlessly lost their lives.
‘I would like to pay tribute to Frankie and Charlies’ families, who have carried themselves with dignity and understanding throughout our investigation and throughout the trial.
‘I cannot imagine the loss they are feeling.’