A JILTED lover has been found not guilty of dangerous driving during an argument with his girlfriend’s illicit partner.

Darren Dredge, of Hatherden Lane, Hatherden, drove his tipper truck to Bathwick Tyres, in Station Approach, on May 17 last year, in a bid to talk to mechanic Michael Watts.

Mr Dredge, the court heard, had been told Mr Watts had been having an affair with his partner of nine years.

In a two-day trial at Winchester Crown Court this week, jurors were told Mr Dredge, 48, was accused of reversing his van in a bid to run over Mr Watts.

But the jury did not believe the prosecution’s claims and found Mr Dredge not guilty on Wednesday - after just 40 minutes of deliberation.

Prosecutor Christopher Wing said on the day of the incident Mr Dredge drove to the garage where there was an “exchange of words”.

Giving evidence, Mr Watts said Mr Dredge asked him if “I was Micky” to which Mr Watts requested him to get out of the van, but Mr Dredge said he would only do this if the other man put down a hammer he was using.

As the pair traded abuse, Mr Dredge decided to pull away, but the prosecution claimed he reversed back with “wheels spinning” in a bid to hit Mr Watts.

“The wheels were spinning and coming back towards me, [it] mounted the curb and carried on coming up to the front of my work,” Mr Watts said.

“I jumped up on the wall into the front of my work.”

But this claim was denied by Mr Dredge who said he had not mounted the curb, and the only reason his wheels spun was because he “dipped his clutch too quickly”. He said Mr Watts had come towards him at a “faster pace” with a hammer and the pair exchanged words.

“I am not silly - if someone is running at you with a hammer I am going to pull forward.”

Mr Dredge told the court he went to drive off, but thought Mr Watts had called him a “woman beater” and he decided to reserve back.

He added: “I just couldn’t believe what he had said to me. I wanted to know what else he had to say,” Mr Dredge said.

Mr Dredge then drove off as he said he was not getting the truth, but was arrested hours later.

Note: Mr Watts has informed the Advertiser that despite what was said in court, he and Mr Dredge’s partner were not having an affair. He has said that Mr Dredge and his partner had split up at the time.