The 16-year-old from London, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was found not guilty of the murder of Mr Cutting and a charge of attempted murder, as well as two offences of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, following a trial at Winchester Crown Court on 27 January 2021.
A 49-year-old Bournemouth man stood trial alongside him facing a charge of assisting an offender and he was also cleared by the jury.
As part of a linked investigation, a 19-year-old man from the London area was charged with two counts of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs, but denied the offences and had been due to stand trial. A reporting restriction relating all proceedings was put in place pending the outcome of the drugs trial.
However, at a hearing on 6 May the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence in relation to the drugs charges the 19-year-old man was facing and a formal not guilty verdict was recorded. The reporting restriction was subsequently lifted.
Mr Cutting, aged 31, was found with stab wounds in Boscombe Chine Gardens on 30 June 2020. He was sadly pronounced dead at the time.
The jury was told Mr Cutting and another local man aged in his 30s had gone to the gardens to buy drugs and were involved in an altercation with a teenager. Mr Cutting was stabbed in his upper chest and the other man required hospital treatment for multiple stab wounds.
Giving evidence in court, the 16-year-old defendant claimed he had been set upon by the two men and had acted in self defence. In relation to the drugs charges, both the 16-year-old and the 19-year-old claimed to have been exploited by a county lines drugs gang. Their claims were referred to the NRM (National Referral Mechanism) Single Competent Authority, responsible for tackling exploitation and abuse, which found there were conclusive grounds to accept they were victims of modern slavery and had been subject to forced criminality.
Detective Inspector Wayne Seymour, of MCIT, said: “We carried out a full and thorough investigation into the sad death of James Cutting, as well as matters linked to it, and compiled detailed evidence for the court and jury to consider.
“Our thoughts are very much with the family of Mr Cutting, who have been supported by officers throughout this investigation.”
In a statement, the family of James Cutting said: “On 30 June 2020 our lives were changed forever. Our James, a much loved son, father and brother taken forever in such a brutal way.
“His family are left with a permanent void in our lives.”
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