A MAN had been given a ``chilling'' warning of his planned public execution, a judge said yesterday.

Lord Weir said Mr William Lyle had been ``assassinated in the street in full view of members of the public''.

The judge said that traffic drove round the dead man's body as it lay in the middle of a busy street.

Mr Lyle had been a friend of Rangers star Ian Ferguson, who visited him in hospital after a previous attack on his life.

Yesterday, as the man accused of murdering Mr Lyle walked free, Lord Weir said it was a matter of ``concern'' that no-one had been convicted of the killing.

He told a jury at the High Court in Glasgow: ``This sometimes happens and we hope that it does not happen very frequently.''

The jury heard how graffiti daubed on tenement walls warned Mr Lyle, 36, that he would die a violent death.

It read: ``Willie Lyle Supergrass. Your Time's Up. Bye Bye.''

His killers painted the warning on the street outside his 71-year-old widowed mother's home in Digby Street, Parkhead, before he was killed.

The next day shocked shoppers watched a gang hunt Mr Lyle down and stab him to death in a street.

Mr Lyle's mother, Mrs Margaret Lyle, told the court that James Fitzpatrick, 37, had told her: ``You'll be going to your son's funeral.''

Yesterday Mr Fitzpatrick, of Southbank Street, Parkhead, Glasgow, walked free after the Crown dropped the case against him.

He had denied murdering Mr Lyle, of Janefield Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow, while acting with other men, on July 19, last year.

At the start of the second day of the trial, Advocate-depute Kevin Drummond, QC, told Lord Weir he was not proceeding because of lack of evidence against Mr Fitzpatrick.

Fiona Stones, a former nurse, said she saw Mr Lyle being hit on the head with a bottle and ``crumble'' to the ground before being kicked and stabbed to death.

She said: ``I knew he was dead when they left him and ran away.'' She said one of the murderers raised his fist in a victory salute.

Although witnesses said one of the attackers had looked similar to Mr Fitzpatrick, he was not positively identified.

Mr Lyle died in the street. He had survived seven previous gangster attempts to kill him.

In 1991 Mr Lyle was cleared on a technicality of participating in a #150,000 bank raid in Rutherglen during which a gun was held at a baby's head.

Court officials were told to drop the charges against Mr Lyle after taking too long to bring him to trial.

Mr Lyle, who had been convicted of violent crimes, survived three attempts on his life in 1994.

In the final attack he suffered a fractured skull, a collapsed lung, and five stab wounds.

Three weeks earlier a machete was scythed across his head as he got out of a taxi. He was slashed in an attack in a busy pub.

Mr Lyle had said he had been attacked because he had tried to stop drug dealers peddling to children.