Teen is cleared of three charges

A TEENAGER charged with assaulting a man in Belper has been cleared by a court.

Ryan Munton, 18, of Oakerthorpe, had denied inflicting grievous bodily harm, wounding with intent, and unlawful wounding.

All three charges related to two alleged assaults on Belper man Kevin Rowe in the space of a few minutes on Friday, April 22, last year, after he had left the Railway Hotel, in King Street, in the town with his wife.

At Derby Crown Court on Thursday Recorder Andrew Easteal ruled it would not be safe, based on parts of the case presented by the prosecution, for a jury to convict Mr Munton. He directed the jury to give a not guilty verdict after Dominic Shelley, defending, had argued there was no case to answer.

Mr Easteal said: “A jury could not possibly convict because of the lack of clear identification.”

He pointed to two key factors. One was part of Mr Rowe’s evidence, which suggested his attacker had accused him of “stealing his brother’s wallet” before the first assault.

The court heard that Mr Munton was part of a group of four that night — two of which were brothers — but that he was not one of the brothers.

Secondly, Mr Easteal pointed to the fact that Mr Rowe, his wife, and the landlord of the Railway, David Harper — who witnessed the second assault — had all claimed they would “definitely identify” the attacker if they saw him again.

But all three failed to pick Mr Munton out of an identification parade.

Mr Shelley also pointed to times on CCTV cameras which he claimed suggested Mr Munton was in his car when the second assault took place.

The court had heard Mr Rowe was hit by either a fist or a hard object on Bridge Street following a row over a missing wallet. The blow broke his jaw. As he fell to the ground he broke his ankle.

Then, as he and his wife Sharon made their way back to the Railway to get help, Mr Rowe was hit with a glass on King Street, leaving him with a cut to his cheek that needed stitches.

He and his wife told the court during the two-and-a-half day trial that they believed the same person committed both attacks, which happened just after 11.30pm.

Peter Munton, Ryan’s father, spoke to the News after the verdict. He said: “I think justice has been done.It is terrible what happened to Mr Rowe and it must have been terrifying for him and his wife. I wish them all the best for the future.”

A police spokeswoman said there was no evidence to support the prosecution of anyone else.