A HALESOWEN woman has been cleared of assaulting her neighbour following a dispute over a hedge dividing their properties.

Laura McGough was found not guilty of assaulting her neighbour Julie Fleetwood-Meek on the evening of October 6 by punching her in the face.

Magistrates heard how the pair’s families, who live next door to each other on Gower Road, were involved in a row over the height of conifer trees dividing their driveways.

The dispute came to a head when the trees caught fire, leading to both families gathering outside, along with the fire service who came to battle the blaze.

Ms Fleetwood-Meek was hit in the face in the melee, alleging it was Miss McGough who had punched her.

Miss McGough denied the allegation, telling the court she had been barged into and had pushed out her arms to protect herself.

Yvette Greenhouse, a watch commander at West Midlands Fire Service stationed in Brierley Hill, told the court she found a group of five or six people on the street when her team arrived to put out the fire.

She said she found a group of people shouting and in an angry state, which she described as a “commotion”.

In the midst of the arguing Ms Fleetwood-Meek was hit in the face, causing her nose to bleed.

Ms Fleetwood-Meek told the court: “She saw me and with her right hand took a swipe at me and hit me on the nose.”

She said she was left shaking, adding, “I’ve never been hit before.”

Miss McGough denied punching her neighbour of five years, and said she was also left upset and shaken by the confrontation.

She told the court: “I pushed out […] I was frightened, didn’t know what was going to happen next.”

Summing up the case, magistrates said such contact would have been made in self-defence.

They found the 35-year-old not guilty at a hearing on Dudley Magistrates Court on January 9.