A WOMAN accused of punching another woman twice in the face at a Bentham bar, has been cleared of assault.

Skipton magistrates told Claire Burrow they could not be clear of what had gone on at the Hoggs ‘n’ Heifers, that everyone had been heavily in drink, and described it as a ‘drunken melee’.

They said the complainant, Dianne Franklin, had admitted to having eight gin and tonics and a large white wine, and that the landlord, Andrew Crossley, had described her in a statement as the aggressor.

They could find no evidence of a first punch, and insufficient, credible evidence of a second punch, and found Mrs Burrow not guilty of common assault.

Mrs Burrow, 39, of Melling, in denying the assault of Mrs Franklin in the Main Street bar on April 2 last year, claimed she had pushed the other woman, just once, in self defence, after she had elbowed her nephew and to get her ‘out of her space’, but had not punched her at all.

She told the court she later phoned the landlord, had apologised and had asked that he apologise to Mrs Franklin for her.

Mrs Franklin told the court she had travelled to Bentham from her home in Essex on the day to spend time with her then partner, Robert Watson. They had been drinking and by the time they had got to the Hoggs ‘n’ Heifers, she had consumed eight gin and tonics and also wine. She described herself as a ‘little bit tipsy’ and at about five, on a level of one to ten in terms of drunkenness.

Mrs Franklin claimed she could only recall one of the two punches, because she had been in a state of shock after the first, but that on the the second time she had absolute ‘clarity’.

She recalled how the first punch must have happened while Mr Watson was out of the room. He had returned and had got hold of one of her arms, while Mr Crossley had hold of her other arm.

“I saw this woman running towards me. She literally took off and smashed me in the face with her fist,” she said. Mrs Franklin said it had been a very hard punch; she had taken a picture of her injuries herself a couple of days later. She returned home to Essex a couple of weeks later where she ‘felt safe’ and when she only then reported the incident to police.

Mrs Burrow, who represented herself in court, said she and family members had gone to the bar after a rugby match. She also had been drinking, and put herself at a six, on a drunkenness scale of one to ten.