A JURY took less than an hour to clear a mother of two of trying to murder her former partner and best friend by running them down with her car.
Karen Orchard, 40, denied allegations that she had attempted to murder Geoffrey 'Joff' Richards and Roseanna Vanhorn after seeing them walking hand-in-hand at The Lizard.
At Truro Crown Court Mrs Orchard, who has two daughters and lives in the village, was also acquitted of two charges of intentionally attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm on Mr Richards, her 41-year-old former partner of more than seven years, and 35-year-old Miss Vanhorn, and one charge of dangerous driving. She had admitted a second charge of dangerous driving.
The court was told the couple had not wanted to press charges against Mrs Orchard. Mr Justice Burnett said: "I agree entirely with these verdicts, even if it is not my place to express a view."
He sentenced Mrs Orchard, a woman of previous good character, to six months' imprisonment for the driving charge which, due to the period of time she had been on curfew awaiting trial, meant her immediate release. She was banned from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay £250 towards the prosecution costs.
Giving evidence earlier in the hearing, Mrs Orchard denied she had been motivated by hatred and jealousy.
"I did not intend to kill them; I only wanted to speak to them," she said.
She agreed that she had driven dangerously when she knocked down a gate – "but it was only dangerous to myself," she said. She was not aware that the gate had fallen on Miss Vanhorn, who was dragged clear by Mr Richards.
The trial had heard allegations she drove at the pair three times on January 21.
Mrs Orchard told her counsel Michael Melville-Shreeve that she had been shocked, angry and upset when she saw the pair walking hand-in-hand.
"I assumed they were in a relationship and that made me very upset," she said.
Witnesses spoke of Mrs Orchard, a former Helston School student, as a "caring, loving, honest genuine person" who was a registered childminder, had set up a playgroup in the village and worked with teenagers.
Mrs Orchard said she met Mr Richards in 2002, while working behind the bar at the Top House pub, and began living with him in 2003.