Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford brothers cleared of murder attempt of Facebook 'grass'

Two brothers from Bedford have been cleared of the attempted murder of a man who was falsely named as a police informant on Facebook.

Domenico Masciopinto was shot near his Bedford home after doctored images of his police record were put on the site.

Malik Blackburn, 26, and Aaron Romain, 24, both denied attempted murder in January 2011.

They were found by Judge Michael Baker to have no case to answer after Mr Masciopinto refused to give evidence.

The judge told the jury the evidence they had heard, of Mr Masciopinto and an associate naming the men during a 999 call, could not be relied upon.

'Wrong to continue'

"The 999 call is hearsay evidence," he said.

"The truth of what is being asserted can't be tested by cross examination or people giving evidence.

"It is very difficult to make out the background voices.

"My conclusion is that it is unconvincing evidence and I have reached the conclusion that it would be wrong to continue with the trial for attempted murder."

The court heard the police record of Mr Masciopinto was altered to make it appear that he was a "grass", and placed on Facebook.

The prosecution alleged Mr Blackburn had contacted a civilian officer at Bedfordshire Police, who obtained the record and altered it to label Mr Masciopinto as a police informant.

Mr Masciopinto, who was not a police informant, believed Mr Blackburn had been behind its appearance on Facebook, and went to his home to confront him.

He banged aggressively on the door but was not let in.

The court had earlier heard Mr Blackburn and Mr Romain then drove to Mr Masciopinto's home, where the shooting took place.

The judge ordered a retrial on the one remaining charge, faced by Mr Blackburn, of conspiracy to commit an act of misconduct in a public office.

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