THE Natasha Derby murder trial would be littered with "lies from start to finish", the jury was told by the prosecution when it started last month.

But it was the evidence of two women, who admitted they had previously lied to police during the investigation, that helped clear Reading man Dwayne Haughton.

Their testimony and the lack of proof that Haughton fired the gun was the bedrock of the defence.

Reveller Dominique Grandison said she had been dancing with Haughton when the gunshot which killed Natasha last September in the multi-racial centre in High Wycombe was fired.

Miss Grandison's friend Louisa Francis was standing next to the couple as they danced and told jurors at Reading Crown Court that Haughton, nicknamed Vicious, could not have fired the gun.

A pregnant Miss Grandison, who appeared at court on Monday morning, told the jury: "At the time I heard the noise the gunshot Vicious was standing behind me. His arms were round my waist."

This, along with no evidence to link Haughton with actually firing the gun, convinced the jury to clear the Jamaican of the shooting.

But during the trial the two women from Reading admitted they had lied to police during the murder investigation.

Miss Grandison and Miss Francis had "cooked up" a story, said the prosecutor Michael Wood QC, when they lied about who they travelled with to the Summer Jam Ragga dance.

The girls had made their way to the dance separately but said they were together along with Miss Francis's boyfriend Andre Braham and another friend called Martin, the court heard.

Miss Francis told the court Mr Braham asked her to lie because he was concerned Martin, who is a soldier, may get in trouble for attending the late night dance.

After Miss Francis gave her false story to the police, Miss Grandison said she backed up the lie so the story was straight.

However when Miss Grandison heard someone she knew Haughton had been arrested she decided to go back to the police and tell the truth.

During cross examination in the witness box, the girls admitted to the lies. Asked why she told "gratuitous lies" Miss Francis said: "I don't know. It was just one of those things."

Despite these lies which Miss Grandison said were not "important" untruths, both girls had remained consistent over where they said Haughton was at the time of the shooting dancing with them.

Defence counsel Anthony Evans QC asked Miss Grandison "are you lying that Dwayne Haughton had his arms around your waist during the time of the shot?".

"No", replied Miss Grandison.

The jury was also told the girls did not know Haughton was a suspect when they lied to police.

On Monday, July 25, when the case opened the jury heard Haughton's fingerprints were found on the casing of the bullet which killed Natasha.

The casing had been found in the right hand corner of the dance hall which is where witnesses said they heard the gunshot come from. Natasha was struck above her right ear as she watched the DJ.

But no one had seen the gunman's face and none of them placed Haughton on the right of the hall when the shot was fired. He maintained he was with Miss Grandison by speakers to the left of Natasha making it impossible for him to have carried out the shooting.

Haughton told the court: "I could not shoot her. There was no way I would do something stupid like that."

When Haughton took the stand on Friday, July 29, he admitted to touching a bullet shown to him by his Reading friend Reston Braham, Andre's father.

Reston Braham shot Natasha, alleged Haughton, although Det Sgt Lynn Nelson had earlier told the court there was no evidence to link him to the shooting.

After the shooting officers from the Thames Valley Police scenes of crime unit painstakingly scoured the hall for clues.

They recovered more than 900 exhibits but the court did not see anything to nail Haughton to firing the fatal shot from the gun which was never recovered.

This point was seized on by Mr Evans. In his closing speech to the jury on Tuesday morning he said: "All the evidence in this case is that Dwayne Haughton was not in the right place to fire the shot.

"There is no evidence that Dwayne Haughton was in that part of the room.

"There was an assertion that Haughton was on the right and fired the shot by Mr Wood. That is not evidence."

After retiring on Tuesday afternoon the jury of 11 took just over an hour to come to a decision.

They had agreed with the defence and cleared Haughton of the murder and manslaughter of Natasha.