Postman is cleared over assault claim

A POSTMAN accused of punching a disabled man in the face after his dog barked at him has been cleared of assault.

A jury at Ipswich Crown Court took an hour to find Christopher Collins not guilty of assaulting 63-year-old Christopher Tutin and, after the verdict, trial judge Rupert Overbury took the unusual step of telling jurors he agreed with them.

There were emotional scenes in the court following Mr Collins’ acquittal as he broke down in tears and hugged members of his family and friends.

Mr Collins, 46, of Linden Grove, Roydon, near Diss, denied assaulting Mr Tutin, of Rose Cottage, Gislingham, causing actual bodily harm on October 28 last year.

During a three-day trial it was alleged that Mr Collins lost his temper and stormed into Mr Tutin’s hallway through the open front door after Mr Tutin’s black Labrador “Belle” barked at him while he was delivering mail.

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Mr Tutin, who told the court he had suffered 20 “strokes”, claimed Mr Collins threatened to kill the dog if it barked at him again and ignored his request to leave the house.

Mr Tutin had pushed Mr Collins out of the front door and claimed he was then punched in the face, causing a cut to his mouth which needed seven stitches.

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He had also needed dental treatment to two broken teeth.

However, giving evidence, Mr Collins, a postman for 23 years, said Mr Tutin’s dog had been “angry and snarling” and he feared he was going to be bitten.

He put up his foot to fend it off and after the dog ran back into the house he stepped into Mr Tutin’s house through the open front door to confront him about what had happened.

He claimed that when he told Mr Tutin he would try to have his dog put down if it came at him again, Mr Tutin had pushed him out of his house and hit him in the face.

Mr Collins claimed he feared he was going to be hit again and had swung a punch at him to get him away.

Julie Hesketh, a former parish councillor in Gislingham, said she had organised a petition for people in the village to indicate their support of Mr Collins following the incident and it had been signed by 152 people.

Two postmen said they had experienced problems with Mr Tutin’s dog. One said it had taken a chunk out of his fleece and the other said it had run at him and he had feared he was going to be bitten.

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