University student Michael McGinley cleared of striking out at flatmate Andrei Oprea after being woken at his Canterbury flat
A university student has been cleared of repeatedly striking his housemate with a bat in a row over noise.
A jury at Maidstone Crown Court decided in less than 20 minutes that Michael McGinley was not guilty of assault causing actual bodily harm to Andrei Oprea.
It had been alleged that Mr McGinley, 21, lashed out at Mr Oprea after being woken in the early hours of November 23 at the house they shared in St Peter's Grove, Canterbury.
Mr McGinley was alleged to have subjected the Romanian national to several beatings with a bat after he was woken by their chatting.
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The two men, and a third housemate, had been out drinking the previous evening. But Mr McGinley returned home several hours ahead of them and went to bed.
The court was told that by the time Mr Oprea and the third student arrived home at 5am they had been drinking tequila, beer and vodka.
Mr Oprea told the court Mr McGinley was "mad" and shouting he would kill him.
But Mr McGinley said the Canterbury Christ Church student hit him first, breaking his nose, after the initial confrontation about noise.
Wanting an apology, he explained he went to Mr Oprea's room and kicked the locked wooden door, breaking a bottom panel and causing it to open.
Mr McGinley said he was then rugby-tackled to the floor by Mr Oprea and the pair began to grapple.
He denied going into the room "for revenge", or either arming himself with a bat or owning one.
However, he did admit hitting Mr Oprea with a piece of wood from the broken door in an attempt to get him off.
"I think at the time he was on top of me and I have just picked it up and hit him a few times," he explained.
Mr McGinley, who is studying at the University of Kent, said they both tired and Mr Oprea ran downstairs. He denied they had to be pulled apart by their housemate.
The jury was told a bat was never found by the police. However, a few weeks after the incident, Mr Oprea moved into Mr McGinley's vacated room and found a bat under a loose floorboard.
Before the trial Mr McGinley, now of Ankerdine Crescent, Shooters Hill, south east London, admitted two offences of criminal damage in relation to furniture in Mr Oprea's room and his mobile phone.
Judge Richard Polden sentenced him to a community order with 80 hours unpaid work.
Asked why he had damaged the property, Mr McGinley told the court: "I realised when I went downstairs that the police had been called.
"Andrei turned to me, almost laughing, and said: 'You are going down now. I have called the police.'
"Rather stupidly I went back to his room. I was angry. Quite frankly, if anyone should have called the police it should have been me.
"He assaulted me first and he was in the wrong."
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