A BEER festival customer has been cleared of affray in a North Devon village following a trial which saw one member of the jury fall asleep.
Anthony Hemmings said he had been set on by alleged victim James Clark, who had been drinking for around 11 hours before the late night confrontation in Bradworthy.
He was found not guilty of affray by a jury at Exeter Crown Court after telling them he had become involved in a fight but had not picked up a breeze block or threatened social club customers.
The jury had been sent home early from the first day of the two day trial after one of the jurors was seen to be nodding off and another member of a panel sent the judge a note saying they were snoring.
Police were called to the disturbance at the Bradworthy Social Club after an argument between Hemmings and Mr Clark which started at the Bradworthy Inn flared into violence.
They had both been at a beer festival with barbecue and live band in the courtyard of the pub where they had exchanged words over comments which Mr Clark had posted on Facebook about a recently deceased member of the Hemmings family.
Mr Clark was asked to leave the pub by the landlady and moved across the square to the social club where he was having a cigarette in an alley leading to a side door when Hemmings and his father Kenneth arrived.
The prosecution alleged Kenneth Hemmings was armed with a pick axe handle and his son joined him in an attack on Mr Clark before picking up a half breeze block and brandishing it at club customers.
They said the incident was like a Wild West bar brawl with the father and son bursting in on terrified customers in the club.
Anthony Hemmings, 31, of Stursdon Farm, Woodford, near Bude, denied affray and was found not guilty.
His father Kenneth, a 52-year-old self employed businessman, of Powlers Piece, Putford, near Holsworthy, has already admitted affray and having an offensive weapon and will be sentenced tomorrow .
Anthony Hemmings said the incident at the Bradworthy Inn had blown over and his father was about to give him a lift home when they both decided to go for a final drink at the social club.
He said he had no idea Mr Clark had gone there or that his father was carrying the axe handle.
He said: “My father asked if I wanted a quiet pint at the club and we walked there without really saying anything. When I got there I saw Mr Clark in the doorway as we were walking down the alley.
“There were a few words exchanged and Mr Clark went to attack me and all hell broke loose. I think he started the exchange of words by asking me what I was doing there.
“My dad was behind me and I just got into a fight with Mr Clark, who swung at me or pushed me. Then we were hitting each other on the floor.
“My dad was trying to get to him to protect me and Mr Clark’s girlfriend Stacey was trying to pull people away and stop it. We were dragged off each other.”
Hemmings said he had drunk a lot less than the other man because he had arrived at the beer festival at around 7.30 pm, while Mr Clark had been there since noon and drinking for around 11 hours.
He denied pulling Stacey’s hair or picking up the breeze block which acts as a door stop at the social club and brandishing it above his head. He said he had never touched it.