A NURSERY assistant hit a tyre fitter with a bunch of keys after he refused to move a van from the garage forecourt, a court has heard.

Mum-of-three Jessica Macleer, aged 28, of Lestraynes Lane, Rame, pleaded not guilty to the assault, saying she "feared for her own life" and had acted in self defence.

Truro magistrates this morning dismissed her defence and found her guilty of the incident, which took place on April 23 at TyreFinders, on Commercial Road in Penryn.

Prosecuting, Graham Calderwood said that Macleer had entered the workshop around 3.30pm, despite signs saying that there was no public access.

She approached the victim and demanded that he "move the f**king van" that was parked next to her car on the forecourt.

The victim, who had previously fallen out with Macleer's husband, was balancing a wheel at the time and replied: "I'm not doing your family any favours, ask someone else to do it."

The exchange became heated and Macleer rang her husband, a Tyre Finders employee at another depot, to tell him that her car was blocked in.

Another employee, David Czunys, told Macleer to leave the workshop.

Witness Mr Czunys, under cross-examination from Mr Calderwood, said: "She came in having a go [at the victim] because the van was parked too close to her car. She was kicking off, trying to belittle him, saying he was just a tyre fitter.

"There was lots of shouting and she was calling him a d**k, swearing at him, calling him 'little man' and trying get under his skin," said Mr Czunys, who admitted telling her to "f**k off" out of the workshop.

He said that the assault "came out of nowhere - a massive thump which you could hear around the whole workshop".

Macleer, standing near the victim, swung her bunch of keys, which were attached to a lanyard, striking the victim on the back of the head.

Mr Czunys told the victim to go outside for a cigarette to calm down, but the argument continued in another part of the garage.

Macleer filmed the victim shouting and swearing at her and she can be heard laughing at him.

Giving evidence, the defendant said she had swung the keys because "she was in fear of her own life".

She added: "He had threatened to kill my husband and he said he was going to have my family. I acted in self-defence."

Macleer regularly parked her car on the forecourt, as she worked at nearby Jumblies Day Nursery in Jubilee Wharf.

She had an arrangement, through her husband, that she could park there, but would leave the keys with the manager so it could be moved if necessary.

On the day in question at around 8.45am, she did not leave the keys because the "usual manager" was not around and she couldn't see anyone else around, despite the depot opening at 8.30am.

She said that after she had finished work she returned to find her car blocked in.

There was no-one in reception, so instead she went into the workshop to ask the first person who she saw.

"I said 'please can you move the van?' I had to remain professional because I was wearing a hoodie with Jumblies written on the back.

"He [the victim] was aggressive towards me and I was shaking and in shock because he was threatening to kill my husband."

Besides Mr Czunys, the victim and Joshua Lovell, another employee, also gave evidence of the incident.

Summing up, Mr Calderwood said that there was "no need" for Macleer to have taken that action as there was not any immediate threat of assault or injury.

Defending, Mark Charnley said that she was a "vulnerable lady" at that particular time, confronted by a male making swear words, and she reacted.

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench Andrew Moth said that Macleer committed the assault “without justification” and had shown no fear throughout the incident. 

He said that her account “did nothing to cast any doubt on the Crown’s case”.

Macleer, who no longer works at the nursery, was given a two-year conditional discharge and a two-year restraining order was imposed prohibiting her from contacting the victim.

She was also ordered to pay £450 costs, £50 compensation and £20 victim surcharge.