THE family of a 16-year-old boy who was fatally stabbed during a drug deal have described him as "awesome" and a "fantastic human", after a teenager was found guilty of manslaughter. 

Elijah Clark, of Gloucester Avenue, Chelmsford, had met with former Coggeshall schoolboy Andy Wood on February 12 last year to buy cannabis.

A fight then broke out which led to Clark stabbing Mr Wood in the neck but Clark, 18, argued he acted in self-defence.

The police found Andy fatally injured in green space off Waterson Vale, a residential street in Chelmsford, at about 11.30pm.

Paramedics rushed Andy, whose home address was in Braintree, to Broomfield Hospital where he tragically died.

Following a four-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, a jury deliberated for 18 hours and 52 minutes before reaching majority verdicts to find Clark guilty of manslaughter and actual bodily harm.

Clark was cleared, however, of murder and carrying a knife.

Following the verdict, Andy Wood’s family issued a heartfelt tribute.

They said: “Nothing will bring our awesome Andy back, but today's verdict gives us a small amount of comfort and possibly some sort of closure to allow us to properly grieve going forward.

Braintree and Witham Times: Popular - Andy Wood, 16, died from a stab wound to his neck Popular - Andy Wood, 16, died from a stab wound to his neck (Image: Public)
“The people that knew Andy, will know what a fantastic human being he was and he will be remembered by all that he touched, as an amazing, loving, caring, son, grandson, brother, nephew, cousin and friend that did not deserve to be taken away so soon.

“We would like to thank Essex Police and CPS for their work during the investigation. Thank you also to everyone that helped in trying to save Andy’s life.

“We will not be making any further comment and request we are respectfully left to grieve as we try to piece our lives together without our Andy.”

Senior investigating officer, detective chief inspector Louise Metcalfe, described the work which went into the investigation as "extensive". 

She said: “My thoughts remain with Andy’s family and friends at this difficult time, and I commend them for their strength throughout this investigation.”

A sentencing hearing will be set at a later date.