VANCOUVER - British Columbia's top court has overturned a second-degree murder conviction against a man who was found guilty of stabbing a Good Samaritan in downtown Vancouver.

The Appeal Court of British Columbia ordered a new trial in the case of Kenneth Williams, who was handed a life sentence in June 2017 with no chance of parole for 10 years.

B.C. Supreme Court heard 28-year-old Robert Smith was killed when he got out of a cab and tried to intervene in a fight that broke out between the driver and Williams after Williams hit or kicked the vehicle while walking down the street.

The Appeal Court says the trial judge's failure to respond adequately to a question from the jury amounted to a miscarriage of justice.

The ruling says Williams relied on a defence of intoxication to raise a reasonable doubt about whether he intended to stab Smith to death.

It says that while the issue of Williams having drank a considerable amount of alcohol on the evening of the alleged offence was not contested, there was no direct evidence regarding his activities during a 90-minute period between when he left a restaurant and the stabbing.