'I thought the innocent were protected ... it's been a hard lesson': Celebrity photographer kicked by Muslim woman she tried to help tells of pain at being charged as a racist
Her name may have been cleared, but it is obvious the scars of being accused of a vicious hate crime will be more difficult to erase.
Last Thursday, a jury at Isleworth Crown Court in West London took just 15 minutes to acquit her of shoving a pregnant Muslim woman to the floor and calling her husband a terrorist during a row in Tesco. Despite Miss Heathcote-Drury's relief at the verdict, her sense of bewilderment at what has happened remains her overwhelming emotion.
The investigation that led to the celebrated photographer - whose work hangs in the National Portrait Gallery - being tried was described in court as 'a shambles'.
To her, it often felt like being trapped in a dystopian world in which she could not make her version of events heard, no matter how hard she tried.
Although, in fact, she says she was the victim of assault, her own accusations were dismissed while her accusers' claims were pursued by police.
Today the elegant 41-year-old is exhausted, but grateful finally to have her chance to explain the truth about this strange and disturbing case.
'I've been going out of my mind since this all happened,' she says. 'I've been on antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills because of the stress.
'I didn't even tell any of my friends about the charges until April, because I couldn't bear to say them; they were too hideous. I have a lot of friends of different ethnic backgrounds and I didn't want to plant even the smallest doubt in their minds about me.
'Before this, I believed that if you were innocent and told the truth, you would be protected by the system, but I've learned some very hard lessons.
'I kept waiting for my story to be investigated, and it never was. Of course it was an enormous relief to be acquitted so quickly, but I find it absolutely terrifying that the case against me could have gone as far as it did.
'The sense of powerlessness at what was happening was overwhelming.'