A Rugby League star accused of assaulting his partner when he struck her as she was behind the wheel of their car today broke down in tears as he was acquitted.
A Liverpool Crown Court jury of six women and six men found Anthony Gelling not guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm following four hours deliberations.
30-year-old Gelling, who had told how he had acted in self-defence to stop Toni Mackey reversing into him in their four-wheel-drive Hyundai, put his head in his hands when the verdict was returned and was still weeping tears of relief as the jurors left the courtroom.
Speaking afterwards outside court he said: "I am so relieved.
"I am just glad I had the chance to be heard and justice to be done."
The New Zealand-born player, who is planning to fly back to his homeland next week, added, “I just want to see my kids.”
The children are currently in New Zealand along with his ex-partner, who gave evidence from there during the four-day trial via video link.
Gelling, of Cronton Lane Mews, Widnes, has been playing for Leigh Centurions, but was with Warrington Wolves at the time of the incident at lunchtime on February 6 last year.
He has also played for Wigan Warriors and Widnes Vikings..
The jury heard how the punch he threw as his then-wife sat behind the steering wheel broke bones in her nose and eye socket, chipping a tooth as well as causing a black eye and a cut over her right eyebrow.
Ms Mackey, who was going out for lunch, had refused to let him get their baby’s pram out of the boot of their car. He explained he wanted to get the pram so he could take their baby to collect the other child from school later that day in case she was not back in time.
The prosecution claimed it had been an act of aggression but Gelling told how he had been acting in self-defence when she continued to reverse and he was trapped by the driver’s door and an adjacent garage door and feared he would be injured.
He had gone out to get the pram while she was upstairs but she came out to the car and went past him and got in.
Angry words were exchanged and Gelling said she started to reverse slowly.
He said: "I took a couple of steps back and when she kept reversing I moved to the side by the garage. I tapped on the rear window and told her to stop.”
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He said there was a button inside the vehicle which openED the boot and he opened the driver’s door to push it.
Asked about that decision, he admitted, “It was a stupid decision. I should just have stayed out of the way."
He added: “The car lurched backwards and got my right leg knocking me off balance. I hopped onto my left leg and put my foot out and yelled, ‘Stop.’
“I just panicked, there was a lot of adrenaline. I punched her. I just wanted to stop the car. I thought I was going to be run over."