A MAN has been cleared of killing a former neighbour following a row in the street.

Glen Cooper, 37, was cleared by a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday following an incident in which Peter Wilmot, 41, suffered serious head injuries.

The incident happened in Broad Walk, Hockley, at about 5am on February 1 this year.

Mr Wilmot died two days later at Queens Hospital, in Romford.

Mr Cooper always denied the manslaughter of Mr Wilmot, telling the court he hit Mr Wilmot first because he thought he was going to be attacked.

It took a jury of eight women and four men just over two hours to clear him of the charge. The verdict was unanimous.

The court heard how Mr Cooper had gone to investigate a noise at a house across the road from where he lived in Broad Walk.

He sawaman bending down at a letterbox and asked him what he was doing.

Mr Cooper did not recognise him as Mr Wilmot, who was trying to see his estranged wife, Stella.

The two got involved in a row and Mr Cooper said Mr Wilmot was acting very aggressively.

Mr Cooper had told the court: “He was very, very aggressive and put his face very close to mine when he spoke and I could smell alcohol.

“I put my hands up and said ‘fine’ and walked away, and he pushed me in the back.

“I swung round on the spot and I punched Peter. I did not have any time to think. It was raw instinct.

“What was going through my mind was he was going to cause me serious harm. He was intent on hurting me.

“I hit him with my right hand. I did not have any time to make a rational decision.”

He told the jury Mr Wilmot fell backwards.

He said: “I do not know if he hit his head on the ground. He did not seem to brace himself.”

He told the court how he then went to his car and drove to work.

Mr Wilmott was found unconscious by a passer-by just before 7am and was taken to Southend Hospital by paramedics, before being transferred to Queens Hospital, where he died on Monday, February 3.

The trial heard the impact with the ground fractured Mr Wilmot’s skull and caused internal bleeding to his brain.