Senior Southend councillor Tony Cox has been cleared of assault after a three-day trial.

Mr Cox, 39, was accused of assaulting Jamie Waterfield and causing him actual bodily harm by busting his lip on May 20 last year.

But a jury was unconvinced by the case put forward by prosecutor Sarah O'Kane and found the councillor innocent after deliberating for only a matter of minutes.

The court heard how a row broke out between the men after Mr Cox discovered a “Die” threat on his front door and had accused Mr Waterfield of writing it.

Mr Cox always insisted he believed Mr Waterfield was responsible for the graffiti, but said he did not punch him at any stage during the course of the evening.

The court heard Mr Cox told police the only time there had been physical contact was when he pushed Mr Waterfield out of his own flat in defence of himself and his wife.

He claims Mr Waterfield was already injured when the confrontation began.

Speaking after the verdict came in, Mr Cox said he felt "vindicated" by the decision.

He said that his neighbour had inflicted a "campaign of terror" and added: "No family should ever have to go through that.

"It has been a hellish time for me and my family and I am glad it is over."