TWO men have been found guilty of the murder of missing man Paul Morson, on what would have been his 33rd birthday.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court returned the verdicts on John Burns and Raymond Brierley, following almost 20 hours deliberation.

A third man, Scott Callaghan was cleared of murder and the alternative charge of manslaughter, but convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Brierley, 59, of Windy Arbour Road in Whiston, where Mr Morson was battered to death with a lump hammer and Burns, 34, of Kipling Avenue, Huyton and Callaghan, 34, of Dalemeadow Road in Knotty Ash will be sentenced tomorrow (Friday, November 23).

During the seven week trial, the jury of six men and six women heard that the motive was apparently money as Brierley and Burns had serious cash problems at the time of the killing, on June 8 last year.

Shortly after the murder, a safe from Mr Morson’s home was stolen on Spinners Drive in Sutton.

He had invested £50,000 in Burn’s firm I Security, but stopped receiving payments and not long before his death, had asked for his money back.

Mr Morson’s van was found abandoned in Holmes Chapel on June 21 and Callaghan’s DNA was found on it.

He had confessed to a female friend that he had gone to a house with Burns and heard screams inside, because Mr Morson was getting “battered”.

Callaghan said he saw Mr Morson tied up and blood was everywhere. Burns gave Callaghan £2,000 and was promised a further £10,000.

He also told another female friend that he saw Brierley holding a blood covered sledgehammer. Brierley told police that he had wrapped the body in black plastic sheeting and acting alone he put the body into a borrowed van and then went with a friend to the Runcorn Bridge.

On the other side of the bridge they parked and carried the body on a homemade stretcher to the water's edge. They rolled the body down a steep embankment, weighted down with three concrete breeze blocks and pushed it into the water, he said.

Brierley, who had admitted manslaughter claiming self-defence, was convicted by a majority of 11 to 1 as was Callaghan on the perverting justice charge relating to drive away the victim's van to make it appear he had voluntarily disappeared.

Burns, who was convicted of murder by a majority of 10 to 2, shook his head when the verdict was announced and wiped away tears.

Outside court after the verdicts were announced Paul Morson's mum Joan made a statement on behalf of the family.

"Justice has been served today but not for Paul. These men have told lie after lie and for 20 months we have existed not lived and our pain goes on.

"We will be chasing all avenues in our pursuit in finding Paul," she stated.