A NURSE has been cleared of breaking a woman’s eye socket after telling a jury that she was the victim of the bust-up at a family reunion.

Rachel Hughes was visiting her boyfriend’s sister and her husband in a Mid Devon village for a get-together in which four siblings had recreated a family photograph at a National Trust property.

The party moved on to a pub and then back to a house in Washfield, near Tiverton, where an argument broke out some time after midnight which ended with a fight.

Ms Hughes had gone to the house to join her boyfriend Dean Dibble who had been part of the photo shoot with twin siblings Kim and Nina Dibble.

Kim Dibble suffered a broken eye socket in the incident in which her partner Harry Stevens was also hurt.

Hughes, aged 46, of Beatty Way, Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, denied causing grievous bodily harm and assault by battery and was found not guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court.

Had she lost, she was at risk of losing her career as a specialist nurse helping cancer patients control their medication while they are at home rather than in hospital.

Mr Richard Crabb, prosecuting, said the family gathering started at Knightshayes Court on the afternoon of November 21, 2021, and Ms Hughes joined them at the Stoodleigh Arms.

They moved back to Mr Stevens’ home at Washfield later in the afternoon and Mr Crabb said Ms Hughes and Kim Dibble had both been drinking.

An argument started as a result of an ill-judged remark from a 13-year-old girl who was at the party which led to a violent encounter between the two women.

Kim Dibble told the jury the violence started when Ms Hughes punched her in the face.

She said her husband was also assaulted as he tried to get her out of the house.

Ms Hughes said the other woman grabbed her around the throat and she hit out in self-defence.

She said she was frantic with worry because her young daughter was left in the house after she was thrown out.

The jury heard that both Mr Stevens and Ms Hughes made 999 calls within minutes of the altercation but hers was on a mobile with a poor signal and only a few words of her call could be heard.

Mr Crabb said police who arrested Ms Hughes formed the impression she was drunk.

Judge Anna Richardson told the jury that they should only convict if they were sure that Ms Hughes had not been acting in self-defence.