TWO TEENAGERS have been found guilty of a "shocking and disturbing" murder of a "vulnerable" man.

Jacob Cookson, 18 of Langworthy Road, Salford, and a 17-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty to the murder of 48-year-old Leigh Smith in June last year before the month long trial at Minshull Street Crown Court which ended yesterday.

But the court found them guilty after hearing how Mr Smith had been the victim of "cuckooing" at the hands of a criminal gang in his assisted living flat in Eccles before Cookson and the 17-year-old stabbed him seven times to his legs with a knife before fleeing, leaving Mr Smith to bleed to death in his living room.

Detective Chief Inspector Ben Cottam, of GMPs Major Investigation Team, said: "This was a shocking and disturbing murder of a vulnerable man by two teenagers who have shown little remorse for their actions.

"Our thoughts are very much with Leigh's loved ones today and I hope this guilty verdict brings some comfort to them.

"Cuckooing is a horrendous practice, which we are determined to crack down on in Greater Manchester.

"As always, we need the assistance of the public to keep making sure we are aware of anyone who may be a victim, so that we can give them help and support and bring those who commit these acts to justice.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to say if you think a family member, friend or neighbour may be a victim of cuckooing, then please get in touch with police so we can help them."

Cuckooing is a term used for a practice whereby criminals take over what is usually a vulnerable person's home and uses the property for illegal purposes such as the storing and dealing of drugs.

After he was stabbed, Mr Smith was not found until the following day, when a concerned neighbour went round to the flat to check on him and found his body, alerting police to the scene.

Mr Smith's mother Jackie said: "Although it will not bring Leigh back and he is greatly missed, we as a family are pleased that we have now got justice for Leigh."

The two defendants will appear at Minshull Street Crown Court for sentencing on Friday January 28.