Gordon found not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter

THE daughter of Donald Gordon, the man found not guilty of murder by a Supreme Court jury at Grafton, has expressed sympathy for the victim's family.

It took the jury just a few hours yesterday to reach its verdict - that Gordon was guilty of manslaughter, but not murder, over the death of his friend Danial Cotter near Baryulgil some time between November 6-7, 2013.

Gordon pleaded guilty to manslaughter before the trial, having admitted to police soon after Cotter's body was found that he ran him over with his Mitsubishi Magna near the entrance of Collum Collum station.

Cotter and Gordon had spent the night of the incident drinking alcohol with two other men, and were both heavily intoxicated when they left the homestead in Gordon's car about midnight on November 6, 2013. Some time later, Gordon ran back to the house saying he had hurt Danial.

His manslaughter plea was rejected by the Crown, which alleged the fatal head injuries Cotter sustained were inflicted by a large, blood-stained rock next to his body.

But after three weeks of evidence, the Crown's case could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Yesterday, sighs of relief and sobbing could be heard across the room as Gordon and Cotter's family members reacted to the decision.

Speaking outside the Grafton Courthouse, Gordon's eldest daughter Larisa said the verdict had left her feeling both relieved for her own family, and upset for Danial's.

"This has been going on for (more than three) years so it's a bit of a relief and mixed emotions for everyone I suppose," she said.

"On behalf of my father, we're just happy for a result that he's not spending the rest of his life (in jail).

"But I am very sad for the other family, for Danial's family. We did love Danial, he was a part of the community. He was a part of our family."

Gordon, who has been in custody since November 2013, will be sentenced in a Sydney court on April 28. The defence has requested a pre-sentence report for a community corrections order, with mention of health concerns.

It is believed that in the first week of the trial, the 45-year-old was hospitalised with chest pain while members of the jury visited the site of Cotter's death.