An apprentice chef has been cleared of murdering a burglar he found inside his home, chased down the street, and put in a chokehold.
A jury on Wednesday accepted Benjamin Batterham's claim he was making a citizen's arrest of Ricky Slater in March 2016 and accidentally killed him.
The 35-year-old chased Slater down the street in Newcastle, tackled him, put him in a chokehold, and repeatedly punched him in the head until police arrived.
Apprentice chef Benjamin Batterham has been found not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court of murdering a burglar he found inside his Newcastle home
Benjamin Batterham (centre) leaves the Newcastle Supreme Court with his wife and barrister after the jury found him not guilty of murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter
The Newcastle Supreme Court jury found Batterham, who spent two months in prison after his arrest before being granted bail, not guilty of murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Slater suffered a cardiac arrest following the attack but was revived by paramedics, but had another two cardiac arrests in hospital and died the next day.
The meth addict had scarring to his heart because of regular drug use, suffered liver disease, and was obese.
Defence lawyers insisted throughout the trial that Batterham never intended to kill Slater or cause him serious harm.
They claimed Slater had a lethal level of meth in his system and that was the true cause of his death.
NSW's top forensic pathologist Johan Duflou testified that research showed levels of 0.54 milligrams per litre was shown to cause death.
However, he said Slater's death could not be solely blamed on his drug toxicity and there were other factors in play.
'I would include methamphetamine toxicity, I would include the fact that the deceased was held in a face down, prone restraint position, and if there was neck compression,' he told the court.
Richard Slater suffered a cardiac arrest following the attack but was revived by paramedics, but had another two cardiac arrests in hospital and died the next day
Richard James Slater's mother, Beryl Dickson, said the 34-year-old 'had a problem' with ice and confirmed a photograph of a man smoking from a lit pipe was her son (pictured)
Batterham was drinking with a friend, Paul O'Keefe, when he saw Slater in his daughter's bedroom about 3.20am on March 26 in 2016.
Slater was carrying a blue shoulder bag containing three knives, marijuana, and meth.
Slater had stolen things of value to Batterham including his partner's purse and his daughter's headband before running off.
The court heard during the trial that neighbours tried to get Batterham to let Slater go, but he refused and told the burglar he would kill him.
Multiple witnesses testified that Slater was telling Batterham 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe' during the struggle.
Prosecutor Wayne Creasey told the court off-duty policeman Peter Mahon saw Batterham punch Slater a number of times to the head when he was on top of him, pinning him to the ground with his left arm around his neck.
Batterham was telling Slater: 'You motherf**king piece of s**t. How dare you break into my daughter's bedroom. She's only seven months old.'
His partner and baby daughter were not at home when Slater broke in.
When Mr Mahon told Batterham to let Slater go, the chef said: 'No, he will try to run.'
Mr Creasey said when