Amy Winehouse acquitted of assault
Singer was accused of punching a fan in the eye
LONDON -- A British judge acquitted Amy Winehouse on Friday of assaulting a fan who asked to take her picture, a dose of good news in the beehived soul diva's tumultuous life.
District Judge Timothy Workman found the 25-year-old singer not guilty of punching dancer Sherene Flash in the eye after the fan asked to take her picture following a charity ball in September.
Prosecutors claimed it was a deliberate assault. But Winehouse said she had merely pushed Flash because she felt intimidated -- and claimed she was too short to have punched the dancer in the face.
The judge said after hearing the evidence, he could not be sure the blow had been deliberate.
"The charge is dismissed and the defendant discharged," he said.
Winehouse, dressed in a conservative knee-length black skirt, gray jacket, white shirt and pearls, shrugged as the verdict was announced at London's City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. She remained in the dock until her lawyer spoke to her, apparently clarifying the verdict.
"I'm relieved. I'm going home," she said as she left court through a jostling pack of photographers and television cameras.
In a statement read by a spokesman, the singer said she was "very happy to move on with her life and put the episode behind her."
Winehouse, known as much for her chaotic lifestyle as her soulful music, appeared healthy and composed but fidgety during the two-day trial, at times singing to herself, fanning herself with a notebook and sitting cross-legged in the witness box.
Flash accused Winehouse of punching her after a ball in London's Berkeley Square. Prosecution lawyer Lyall Thompson said the backstage incident was "a deliberate assault by Miss Winehouse."
But Winehouse said she had felt intimidated when Flash "lunged at me and put her arm around me," and had only meant to push the other woman's arm away.
"I was scared," Winehouse said Thursday. "I thought 'People are mad these days, people are just rude and mad, or people can't handle their drink.'
"I think she was being overly friendly but that was intimidating," Winehouse added. "I was scared. I'm not Mickey Mouse, I'm a human being."
She also said that at "5 foot 2 1/2 or 5 foot 3" (about 160 centimeters) and wearing ballet pumps, she was too short to have hit the woman in the face. Flash is 5 foot 7 inches (about 175 centimeters) tall and was wearing heels.
Prosecutor Thompson said Winehouse was under the influence of alcohol or "some other substance" when she hit Flash.
The judge it was hard to determine what really happened because most of the people who gave evidence about the incident had been drunk at the time.
"Whilst I accept that all the witnesses have endeavored to give an accurate account of the events, all but two of them were under the influence of alcohol to varying degrees," Workman said.
He 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."
Winehouse's lawyer, Patrick Gibbs, said "the main injury here was probably to Miss Flash's pride."
Winehouse shot to stardom with the Grammy-winning album "Back to Black" in 2006, but her music has been overshadowed by reports of drug use, run-ins with the law and a tempestuous marriage.
She has kept a lower profile recently, spending several months on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and moving from her home in London's Camden nightlife hub to a more sedate suburban neighborhood.
Earlier this month, Winehouse was granted a divorce from her husband of two years, Blake Fielder-Civil. She gave her name in court as Amy Jade Civil.
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