A TAXI driver has been cleared of killing a passenger from Neilston who called him "specky" during a journey after a night out.

Derek McClinton, 51, was accused of mowing down Craig Kearney on March 5, 2017.

The 24-year-old amateur footballer was found lying on a road with serious head injuries and did not survive.

Prosecutors alleged Mr McClinton struck Mr Kearney before driving over him in his Skoda in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire.

But jurors today returned a not proven verdict to a murder charge following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Members of the cabbie's family sobbed in relief.

Judge Lord Armstrong told Mr McClinton: "The jury by their verdict have acquitted you. That being so, you are free to leave the dock."

The court heard how Mr McClinton had picked up Mr Kearney and others in Glasgow city centre en-route to East Kilbride.

Mr Kearney's girlfriend, Olivia Geraghty, was also with him.

She told the trial: "I remember me and my friends talking in the back and Craig being quite cheeky to the driver.

"I remember him saying 'specky'."

Mr McClinton later told police that Mr Kearney had been struggling with his seatbelt and, when the cabbie went to help, the passenger shouted: "What the f*** are you doing?"

One of the women in the back then told him to calm down.

Mr McClinton said he was "quite frightened" by what happened.

He went on to describe Mr Kearney complaining about the route being taken and making threats.

After they stopped in East Kilbride, Mr Kearney allegedly damaged Mr McClinton's car.

Miss Geraghty told jurors how both men looked as if they wanted to fight.

Mr McClinton went on to claim that, as he got back in his taxi, he spotted Mr Kearney with a brick or a stone.

He told police Mr Kearney was in the middle of the road and he "clipped" him as he drove off, fearful that his window would be smashed.

Mr McClinton, of East Kilbride, insisted Mr Kearney was "animated" and "definitely conscious" when he left the scene.

Mr Kearney, who played for AFC Bonnyholm, in the Pollok area of Glasgow, was found badly hurt in a pool of blood.

Paramedics were called to help but attempts to save him were unsuccessful.

Mr McClinton's QC, Donald Findlay, argued during the trial that there had been "insufficient evidence" led to show any sort of "homicide" had been committed and that his client had even been involved.