Three men accused of hacking to death a father-to-be in his bedroom with an axe in a brutal revenge attack have been cleared of murder.

Steven Dougherty, 36, Sam Monteith, 33, and Paul West, 30, had been on trial at the Old Bailey since November accused of killing Danny Gough in Woodside in Croydon on December 14, 2010. 

They were found not guilty by a jury this afternoon after five days of deliberations.

Mr Gough, 24, was killed by three people who burst into his Stockbury Road home in the early hours of the morning, shouting "police". 

They dragged him from his bed, sprayed ammonia in his face to blind him and hacked him to death with an axe, a machete and a sword while his terrified girlfriend, Kareena Modashia, tried to save him.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood had alleged Mr Monteith, of Brighton Road, Sutton, Mr Dougherty, of Essex, and Mr West, of Slough, meticulously plotted the killing and carried it out in an escalation of a violent feud. 

During the trial, the court heard how Mr Gough and two friends had raided Mr Monteith's home, then in Friars Court, Wallington, and slashed him with a knife the month before his death. 

The attack followed a fight in a Wimbledon pub, sparked by Mr Gough's friend commenting on Mr Monteith's "wacky" trousers.

But the accused men denied any involvement in the killing and said "blood-curdling" death threats sent by Mr Dougherty had been just talk. 

Mr Dougherty and Mr West were previously tried for Mr Gough's murder in December 2013, but the jury on that occasion failed to reach a verdict. Mr Monteith was too ill to take part in that trial.