How was Nicholas Hoogstraten convicted of manslaughter only to be released a year later?

In his trial last year, the tycoon was cleared of murder but found guilty of the lesser crime of manslaughter. He was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment.

A charge of conspiracy to murder was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The jury believed Mr Hoogstraten sent two henchmen round to visit Mohammed Raja but not to kill him or badly hurt him.

Had they been sure he intended Robert Knapp and David Croke to do more than frighten the landlord, he would have been guilty of murder. But in July 2003, Mr Hoogstraten's conviction was quashed at the Court of Appeal.

It was ruled in the original trial, judge Mr Justice Newman had misdirected the jury. He should have told them explicitly Mr Hoogstraten would be guilty of manslaughter only if he knew they would be carrying a loaded firearm.

Although the jurors were told something of the relationship between Mr Hoogstraten and Knapp, they were never informed of Knapp's violent history as an armed robber.

After his conviction was quashed, Mr Hoogstraten was recharged with manslaughter. Having previously been cleared of murder by a jury, he could not be charged with the offence again.

To secure a retrial, prosecutor David Waters QC tried to argue:

That Mr Hoogstraten sent Croke and Knapp to Raja in order to apply pressure on him through terror
That he knew Knapp and Croke on that day would have with them a loaded firearm
That he foresaw the gun might be deliberately fired near Raja but not to injure or kill him.

This was a very narrow definition and judge Sir Stephen Mitchell ruled last week that even if the prosecution proved to the jury exactly what they intended, it would not amount to manslaughter.

He said Mr Hoogstraten could be only charged with manslaughter if the death had been accidental - for example from a ricocheting bullet.

As Mr Raja was stabbed repeatedly and then blasted with the gun at point-blank range, his death was clearly no accident.

The CPS, having put forward no alternative charges for Mr Hoogstraten, were then forced to offer no evidence and the tycoon was formally cleared.