A row over cat faeces flung over his neighbour’s fence led 60-year-old Douglas Pidgeon to a court appearance accused of assaulting 38-year-old Matthew Lucas.
But magistrates in Chippenham cleared him after deciding he had not deliberately headbutted Mr Lucas in the scuffle outside his home in Park Avenue, Chippenham.
The court heard on Monday that the row began when Mr Lucas’ five-year-old daughter found the faeces on their garden furniture last August 5. He went next door to confront his neighbour.
Mr Lucas told the court: “I asked if it was him who had thrown cat mess over the garden and he said ‘yes it was’ and I said ‘I’m not very happy about that.’ “I was upset that my daughter had found it and that she had nearly put her hand in it.”
He claimed 5 ft 7ins Mr Pidgeon headbutted him on the bridge of his nose with the left side of his head.
Mr Lucas said he tried to restrain Mr Pidgeon, who had raised his fist into a boxing stance, by taking hold of his arms. But Mr Pidgeon said Mr Lucas had prodded his chest.
He said he usually just cleaned up the cat faeces, but on that morning he had gone out into his garden and thrown it over the fence.
“I said I was fed up with cat mess in my garden,” he said. “I knew it was their cat. I saw it making the mess in my garden earlier in the morning and shooed it away and waited until it had dried up before picking it up.”
Although he could not remember exactly how he and Mr Lucas had sustained injuries, he denied there was a deliberate headbutt.
The incident lasted between five and ten minutes and was witnessed by Mr Lucas’ wife Karen, who watched from her living room window before going out to the two men.
She said: “Mr Pidgeon was getting more aggressive. I told my husband it wasn’t worth it.”
Victoria Ellis, prosecuting, said Mr Pidgeon was left with a cut to the head and Mr Lucas had an injured nose.
Kim Brereton, defending, said even if Mr Pidgeon had been standing on the doorstep, which is a few inches higher than the decking where Mr Lucas was standing, it would still be impossible for him to headbutt his 6ft 4in neighbour on the nose.
Ms Ellis told the court Mr Pidgeon’s wife of 40 years had been diagnosed with cancer and, since the incident, he had been signed off work with stress and had been seeing a counsellor.
Chairman of the bench Roger Coleman said: “We cannot find beyond reasonable doubt that the headbutt was a deliberate act.”