A JURY has convicted a 20-year-old of manslaughter and actual bodily harm after he stabbed a 16-year-old during a drug deal.

Elijah Clark also faced accusations of murder and possession of a knife, but was acquitted of the charges by a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court on Thursday.

Jurors deliberated for 18 hours and 52 minutes after retiring on Monday morning.

The charges were brought against Clark, who was 18 at the time of the attack, after he stabbed teenager Andy Wood in Chelmsford last February.

Braintree and Witham Times: Verdict - Elijah Clark, 20, has been convicted of manslaughterVerdict - Elijah Clark, 20, has been convicted of manslaughter (Image: Essex Police)

Braintree and Witham Times: Victim – Andy Wood was stabbed by Elijah Clark in February last yearVictim – Andy Wood was stabbed by Elijah Clark in February last year (Image: Essex Police)

Mr Wood, who was from Braintree and previously went to school in Coggeshall, was taken to Broomfield Hospital where he died from his injuries.

During the trial, the court heard how Mr Wood had arranged to meet with Clark in an area known locally as mud hills, Chelmsford, for a drug deal at about 11pm on Sunday, February 12.

When Clark was cross examined by the prosecution, he told the jury he had gone to the drug deal unarmed and that either Mr Wood or his friend “lunged” at him and drew knives.

Clark said he made “a split-second decision” to stab Mr Wood in self-defence by using the knife he grabbed off the pair.

As Mr Wood stumbled to a nearby road, Clark made his way back to his address in Gloucester Avenue and disposed of the knife by dropping it down a drain.

The prosecution contested this version of events and said Clark “was immersed in the culture of being a drug dealer” and set out to seriously harm Mr Wood and his friend for impinging on his patch.

Braintree and Witham Times: Investigation – police cordoned off part of Moulsham Park in Chelmsford after the stabbingInvestigation – police cordoned off part of Moulsham Park in Chelmsford after the stabbing (Image: Press Association)

Christopher Paxton KC drew attention to Clark’s previous conviction for possessing a machete, and the subsequent questions he asked his probation officer about what would happen if he got arrested for robbery or knife crime.

The court was shown footage of Clark riding an e-scooter home on the night of the incident before armed police attended his address to arrest him at 12.25am on Monday, February 13.

Clark denied charges of murder, manslaughter, possession of a knife, and actual bodily harm.

A sentencing date is yet to be set by the courts, but it is expected Clark will be sentenced later this month after he was found guilty of manslaughter and actual bodily harm.