Two South African nationals have been found guilty of murdering two men who were strangled during during separate street robberies.

A jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court took just over six hours to convict Gabriel Bhengu and Jabu Mbowane, both 26, of murdering Andrew Owen and Neil Williams in April last year.

The defendants, both of Court Road, Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton, had admitted mugging the victims near their homes in Sedgley, Sandwell, and Telford, Shropshire, but denied intending to harm them.

A third defendant, 22-year-old Kashia Allen, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Owen, who died after being put in a necklock as he was robbed.

The jury was told during a five-week trial that Mr Williams, 41, was killed in Telford 10 days before 42-year-old Mr Owen died in Sedgley. Both were walking home from a night out at their local pubs when they were violently grabbed around the neck and robbed of their belongings.

Bhengu and Allen, of Crosby Close, Farndale, Wolverhampton, were also convicted of five counts of robbery, while Mbowane was convicted of four robbery charges. Bhengu and Mbowane may be sentenced on Friday by Mr Justice Goldring.

It is not yet known when Allen, who was cleared by the jury of Mr Owen’s murder, will be sentenced for his manslaughter and her part in five other robberies.

Bhengu and Mbowane are known to have entered the UK legally, but their visas had expired by the time of the murders and the muggings of five other victims.

Speaking outside court, Mr Williams’ brother, Paul, expressed anger that the two "over-stayers" had not been removed from the country.

"They shouldn’t have been in the country," the 46-year-old said. "There were one or two times when they came to notice but they didn’t get deported.

"Obviously if they had (been deported), seven families would be a lot happier now."

West Midlands Police and their counterparts in West Mercia launched Operation Talrin, a joint inquiry into the deaths, after finding Mr Williams’ stolen watch near Mr Owen’s body.

Bhengu, Mbowane and Allen were arrested in Wolverhampton on May 1 last year after the male defendants had visited a pawnbroker to try to sell Mr Owen’s jewellery.