Actor Stephen Tompkinson has been cleared of inflicting grievous bodily harm on a man he confronted for drunkenly making noise outside his house.
The DCI Banks star was accused of punching Karl Poole in the head after finding him and a friend drinking at the bottom of his driveway in the early hours of May 30 2021.
Mr Poole fell to the ground and broke his skull when his head hit the pavement, Newcastle Crown Court was told.
Prosecutors claimed Tompkinson “snapped” and “lashed out” at Mr Poole in “disgust” at his behaviour.
On Thursday, a jury found him not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm after deliberating for just under two hours.
Tompkinson nodded but showed no visible emotion when the verdict was announced, while a disappointed sigh could be heard from the public gallery, where Mr Poole was sitting.
Asked for his reaction as he was leaving court, Tompkinson told reporters: “I just want to go home.”
Tompkinson is now free to start his planned tour of new play Stumped, which will see him star as playwright Samuel Beckett. The first performance is set to take place in less than two weeks.
The trial was told Mr Poole and his friend Andrew Hall had been drinking since midnight that bank holiday Sunday and had gone to the beach before passing Tompkinson’s home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, on the walk back.
Tompkinson, who was living with his partner and her seven-year-old son at the time, heard “strange noises” at around 5.30am.
The 57-year-old called 999 after seeing the pair try to stand up and fall several times while drinking from a bottle of Jagermeister, jurors heard.
While waiting to be connected, Tompkinson went outside wearing pyjamas and a dressing gown and told the “heavily intoxicated” men who he was calling.
Tompkinson said he could not have punched Mr Poole because he was holding his phone.
He told the court the two men “took great objection to me complaining about them being there” and had started to move towards him.
He said he put his hand out to stop Mr Poole coming any further.
“I didn’t want to hurt him, I wanted to stop him to change his mind about coming towards me and further on to my property,” Tompkinson said.
Tompkinson told the court he has lost acting work since being charged and any association with him in the industry was “on hold” while the legal proceedings were hanging over him.