Victim Jason Lord was walking back towards his Kenton home on the evening of January 20 when he passed a young girl in the street.
Mr Lord, 50, briefly greeted the youngster as she passed but did not stop – continuing his journey from the bus stop towards his block of flats on the Montagu Estate.
But upon hearing about the exchange and questioning Jason’s intentions, killer Steven Walton jumped in a car and set out to find him.
By that time, an intoxicated Mr Lord had lost his balance and was lying on the ground 200 yards from his home.
Read more: Kenton murder probe: Steven Walton charged after death of Jason Lord
Upon seeing him, Walton approached and proceeded to kick and stamp on his victim’s head – shouting and swearing before leaving him for dead.
The assault left Mr Lord with fatal head injuries, with his body later found by a resident who immediately rang 999. Sadly, he was confirmed as deceased at the scene.
Walton, 42, of The Crossway, Kenton, Newcastle, denied murder but was today (Monday) found guilty by a jury following a six-day trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
He is due to be sentenced at the same court tomorrow (Tuesday).
Detective Chief Inspector Angela Hudson, the senior investigating officer in the case, said: “First and foremost, I’d like to thank Jason’s family for their strength and poise shown over the last seven months since he was cruelly taken away from them.
“We have been committed to bringing Jason’s killer to justice ever since this awful incident, and I sincerely hope today’s outcome can offer them some comfort.
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“On the night he was murdered, Jason was simply walking home when he greeted a young girl as he passed her on the pavement. He did not stop or try to engage in conversation – quite simply, he acted as anyone might have done.
“Walton’s actions, upon hearing about the exchange, were entirely hysterical and his decision to jump in a car and then carry out this brutal attack have destroyed more than one life forever.
“There is never any acceptable excuse for violence, and as a Force we will continue to look to take swift and robust action against perpetrators.”