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Councillor, 71, found not guilty of assault
A councillor has spoken of his relief after he was cleared of assaulting a retirement home manager.
Conservative Brian Coomber described the stress of a case which dragged on for six months before he was finally found not guilty.
But the Adur District Council and West Sussex County Council politician said the experience has not put him off street-level campaigning.
Beverley Truscott, the manager of the St Paul’s Lodge retirement complex in Southdown Road, Shoreham, told police she was assaulted by Coun Coomber on March 1.
She said that when he turned up at the complex and tried to get in to distribute pre-election leaflets she refused him access, saying only people invited by residents could go in.
She then claimed he assaulted her by grabbing her hand as she opened the door to let a resident out.
Coun Coomber, of Buckingham Road, Shoreham, appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court accused of assault by beating.
The 71-year-old, who represents Shoreham on West Sussex County Council and the St Nicholas ward on Adur District Council, denied the charge.
He said he had been pushed back from the door by Ms Truscott.
He was found not guilty by district judge Peter Crabtree after a trial.
Coun Coomber told The Argus he would write to the company which runs St Paul’s Lodge complaining about his ordeal and saying the building should improve its entry system.
He spoke of his experience being questioned and arrested by police.
He said: “You start to worry when they start looking serious.
“You think, ‘Hang on, I haven’t done anything’.”
After the court case, the tension was released.
Coun Coomber said: “After the judge said, ‘You can go, Mr Coomber’, it was just me and my wife. We had an emotional reunion.
“It affects the people around you more than yourself.”
He said friends and council colleagues had been in touch giving their support after the verdict.