'Gladiator' killer convicted in US

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Lavern Ritch who died in the US after being stabbed in the chest

An American who stabbed a British tourist and former Gladiators contestant to death has been cleared of his murder.

But a jury convicted Robert Davies of the reckless manslaughter of Lavern Ritch, from Penarth in South Wales.

Mr Ritch, 37, once considered among Britain’s 50 most eligible bachelors, was on a two-week holiday and visiting friends outside Philadelphia in August 2007 when he went to the New Jersey seashore in Margate.

He tried to intervene when he saw Davies, a convicted sex offender, fighting with another person and was stabbed once in the chest.

Davies, 49, told the court in Jersey he acted in self-defence after fearing Mr Ritch was part of a gang bent on harming or killing him moments after he had been assaulted by someone else.

Davies was also convicted of possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and being a convicted criminal in possession of a weapon.

He faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced.

Davies, who began the trial acting as his own lawyer but later abandoned that in favour of having a public defender, told jurors in his opening statement that he stabbed Mr Ritch.

Mr Ritch, 37, appeared as a contestant in the British version of Gladiators in 1998, making it to a quarter-final round.

He was a swimming and fitness instructor in Cardiff; was listed in a 2002 poll of Britain’s 50 most eligible bachelors by Company magazine; and was named the 12th most eligible man in Wales that same year in a local newspaper.

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