A squatter who left a rusty knife embedded in the skull of a father-of-two walked free from court after being cleared of all charges.

Mattar Sallah, 44, attacked 36 year-old Zydrunas Sabaitas after the victim decided to look around his derelict home in north London.

Mr Sabaitas did not realise he had been stabbed until he left the property and felt the blade sticking out the left side of his head.

But he refused to go to hospital and got his flatmate to yank it out using a pair of pliers.

The bakery worker told his wife it was just ‘a small wound’ and did not seek treatment for another four weeks.

By that time his brain had become infected and he died in hospital on January 25 last year.

Sallah was cleared of murder and manslaughter after more than 12 hours of jury deliberations at the Old Bailey.

He told the court he stabbed Mr Sabaitas in self defence because he feared he would be killed by the intruders.

Mr Sabaitas, a Lithuanian national, came to the UK in November 2007 and found work with his wife in a bakery in Tottenham, north London.

On December 13, 2008, he was out drinking with his friends when he saw his old home, a squat in Telford Road, New Southgate.

Seeing a light on in one room, the group of three men went inside to see who was now living at the premises.

Sallah emerged from the bedroom to confront the group and an argument developed on the stairs.

Mr Sabaitas was heard by one friend to say ‘Let’s go’ shortly before he was stabbed.

Sallah said: ‘I was feeling very scared for my life. I never intended to harm him in the first place. All I was trying to do was to protect myself and stop him advancing.’

Mr Sabaitas returned to his home but refused to go to hospital.

He told wife Svetlana Sabaitiene: ‘It’s not too bad. It is a small wound. It will heal soon.’

He at first showed no adverse effects and the wound appeared to heal normally.

But on January 10 last year he had a seizure and was taken to hospital frothing at the mouth.

His wife did not tell staff about the knife wound because she thought he was having a heart attack and he was discharged home the next day.

Over the next few days he started to behave in a ‘childlike fashion’ and complained of severe headaches.

On January 18 he finally agreed to go back to hospital where a CT scan revealed he had an infection.

He had an operation to drain the pus that had formed around his brain but doctors were not made aware of the knife wound until January 24.

By that time he had suffered extensive brain loss because of the pressure inside his head caused by the abscess and he died on January 25.

Addressing the jury Judge Gerald Gordon QC said: ‘Thank you for your assistance in a rather sad case in a number of respects, you may think, not least the fact he did not get treatment when he should have done. Things might have been different.

‘You have seen a world I suspect you did not know much about before you came here.’

Sallah, of (87) Telford Road, Southgate, denied murder and manslaughter.