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Man cleared of confronting cyclist with axe on Droitwich towpath
8:50am Friday 20th September 2013 in News
A NARROWBOAT dweller accused of having an axe when confronting a cyclist on a Droitwich Spa canal towpath has been cleared of affray.
Paul Vale appeared at Worcester Crown Court accused of wielding a yellow-handled axe at cyclist Dean Morris on April 6.
Prosecutor Benjamin Close said Mr Morris had been riding along the Worcestershire Canal towpath, near the Bridge pub in Tibberton, at around 7.30pm that night when he spotted a small fire on the grass verge and saw a man - later identified as Vale - stood in the middle of the path.
When Mr Morris noticed the axe, Mr Close told the jury, he was forced to stop. Vale then began walking towards him, so he began to back away and called his partner, Patricia Ashford, who then called police.
In evidence, Mr Morris - who said he had a special licence from British Waterways to be able to cycle along canal towpaths - said he had been "very frightened" by the incident.
"He was walking towards me and swearing. It all happened that quickly and I was that frightened I can only remember effing and blinding," he said.
However, Mr Vale, who lives on the boat Polestar with his dog, told a jury he had not left his craft moored near the Bridge Inn on the evening of April 6.
Defending, Sabhia Pathan, suggested Mr Morris had actually seen the axe on the first occasion he saw Vale, who was using it to chop wood. Mr Morris denied this.
Mr Vale denied a charge of affray and a jury took just over an hour to find him not guilty after a two-day trial.
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