Amy Winehouse found not guilty of assault

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The Independent Online

Singer Amy Winehouse was cleared today of punching a dancer at a charity ball.

Burlesque dancer Sherene Flash claimed the 25-year-old hit her forcefully in the right eye after she asked the singer for a photograph while backstage at the Prince's Trust Ball in Berkeley Square, central London, last September.

But District Judge Timothy Workman, sitting at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, dismissed the case against Winehouse today.

Winehouse, dressed in a knee-length black skirt, grey jacket and white shirt, looked confused as the verdict was read out and shrugged her shoulders.

The star, who fanned herself with a notepad throughout the hearing, did not leave the dock until her solicitor appeared to clarify the not guilty verdict.

As she left the courtroom, she told reporters: "I'm relieved. I'm going home."

Delivering his verdict, the judge said: "Having heard the evidence from all the witnesses, I cannot be sure that this was not an accident. The charge is dismissed and the defendant discharged."

The singer had told the court she felt intimidated and scared by the drunken Miss Flash when she leaned over and put her arm around her while backstage at the event.

Winehouse would have been happy to pose for a picture with Miss Flash but had asked her to wait for a couple of minutes while she said goodbye to a friend, the court heard.

She denied punching Miss Flash in the face but said: "I pushed her up, like away. I wanted her away from me.

"It was more like an indication of 'Leave me alone, I'm scared of you'.

"I meant to just get her away from me. I was scared. I thought 'People are mad these days, people are just rude and mad, or people can't handle their drink'."

She said: "I didn't know what she was doing. She lunged at me and put her arm around me. She was just drunk.

"I think it was just intimidating. Suddenly out of nowhere she's got her arm round me, her face next to mine, and there's a camera in front of me.

"I think she was being overly friendly but that was intimidating. I was scared. I'm not Mickey Mouse, I'm a human being."

Giving evidence to the court yesterday, Winehouse said Miss Flash towered over her as she was two stone underweight at the time and "five foot two and a half, or five foot three", adding: "My hair does make a difference."

Winehouse was at the ball to support her 13-year-old goddaughter Dionne Bromfield, who was headlining in her first gig.

After the verdict, Winehouse was ushered away by her father Mitch and minders through a frenzied pack of photographers and cameramen.

Outside court, a spokesman for the singer said: "Amy would like to thank her family, friends and legal team for their support during this difficult time.

"She's always maintained her innocence and is very happy to move on with her life and put the episode behind her."

Summing up the evidence, the judge said all but two witnesses in the trial were drunk at the time of the incident.

He said: "The two accounts are irreconcilable and I have had therefore to examine carefully the evidence of other witnesses.

"Whilst I accept that all the witnesses have endeavoured to give an accurate account of the events, all but two of them were under the influence of alcohol to varying degrees."

The judge said the medical evidence presented by the prosecution did not show "the sort of injury that often occurs when there is a forceful punch to the eye".