A BRUTAL killer who plunged a knife into man’s chest as he went to the aid of his friend has been found guilty of murder.

It took a jury at Manchester Crown Court just four hours to unanimously convict Michael Long of the murder of 43-year-old Keith Harris.

The were gasps and tears from the public gallery as the verdict was announced.

Long, aged 36, of no fixed address, was cleared of attempting to murder Mr Harris’ friend, Terrence Moore, although he was found guilty of attempting to cause him grievous bodily harm.

During the week-long trial the jury heard how Mr Harris and Mr Moore were accosted by drunken Long in Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe, just before 7.30am on August 15 last year.

When a request for a cigarette was refused Long went to a nearby house, armed himself with a knife and tried to attack Mr Moore as he walked to the nearby Premier convenience store.

Mr Harris tried to help his friend as he fell through the door into the shop, but was fatally stabbed by Long.

Giving evidence, Mr Moore had told the court how he heard the attacker utter the word “die” as Long plunged a knife into Mr Harris’ chest.

Mr Moore desperately tried to stem the bleeding of his fatally injured friend, who told him:”Hey mate, I’m dying.”

The jury of seven women and five men heard how Long, even then, tried to claim to shocked store staff and shoppers that the men had tried to rob him and punched Mr Moore.

Long then fled the scene fled, crashing a Citroen car at the junction with Wilson Road, which left other road users injured and blocked the road as the emergency services tried to get to the shop.

Then, when he was arrested and in the police van, he attempted to snort cocaine from a bag he had on him and, when handcuffs were taken off him at the police station, tried to lick his hands clean.

Long admitted he stabbed Mr Harris but denied it was murder. He had already pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and possessing cocaine.

The defendant declined to give evidence in his own defence.

He had claimed to have no recollection of the attacks, alleging that he had spent the previous night drinking 12 cans of strong lager and taking cocaine.

During the trial the jury were shown extensive CCTV footage of the street confrontation and the scene inside the shop as Mr Harris was stabbed, staggered away down an aisle and collapsed.

He was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8.17am. The stab wound had cut an artery and a lung.

“He bled into the lungs and drowned,” said Mr Lavery.

Judge Patrick Field QC adjourned sentencing until June 19 and remanded Long into custody.

As he was led away Long, who had looked emotionless as the verdicts were announced, smiled at members of his family and friends in the public gallery.