Man guilty of traffic warden assault

AN ENRAGED electrician twice hit a traffic warden with his car before trying to punch him and eventually speeding off with his hat because of a £30 parking ticket, a court heard.

By Martin Davey

AN ENRAGED electrician twice hit a traffic warden with his car before trying to punch him and eventually speeding off with his hat because of a £30 parking ticket, a court heard.

Bruce Harwood, 31, of Lower Green, Higham, was found guilty yesterday of assaulting Bury St Edmunds traffic warden Richard Bale and driving without due care and attention.

Magistrates in Bury heard how Harwood had left his silver Honda Civic in a loading bay in Brentgovel Street, Bury, at around 10am on July 24, while he went into a shop.

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As he came out he saw Mr Bale looking at his car so he went over, got in and tried to drive away.

Giving evidence, Mr Bale, 62, said: "I had finished writing the parking ticket when the driver returned. As the engine started I thought he may drive away so I walked to the front of the vehicle. He then drove forward into my leg, hitting it just above the knee.

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"When the car stopped, I then went to approach the driver's door. The vehicle accelerated down towards the junction with St John's Street. I was fearful I was going to be struck by the vehicle – the wing mirror struck my hand."

Richard O'Sullivan, prosecuting, said Harwood then drove on for a few yards before stopping, getting out of the car and coming back towards the traffic warden.

"He looked livid, his fists were clenched," Mr Bale said. "I was still trying to issue the ticket but I was aware that he was probably going in inflict some harm to me – he began to swing a wild punch towards my head. I ducked and it went above my head," he said.

As he ducked the warden's hat fell off and Harwood then picked it up, took it back to the car and drove off with it – throwing it out of the car further down the road where a pedestrian found it and gave it back to Mr Bale.

"It shocked me. I was quite shaken. I never did manage to issue the ticket," Mr Bale added.

However, Harwood, who denied both charges, said the traffic warden was the aggressive one and that he had hit the car rather than the other way around.

Giving evidence he said he rushed over to the car to drive off before the traffic warden gave him the £30 parking ticket but the warden stepped in front of the car wagging his finger when he tried to pull away.

"I sounded my horn and he became very angry and agitated and extremely red faced. He walked round and shouted at me to open the window," Harwood said. "I refused and attempted to drive off when he slapped the wing mirror, smashing the glass against the car door out of sheer temper – I was shocked," he said.

He admitted going up to him in the street but denied swinging a punch. He then said he took the hat thinking that if he kept it he could make the traffic warden pay for the damage to the car, discarding it in the street when he realised this wouldn't work.

"It is a gross injustice that someone can put on a uniform, cause this damage and then hide behind that uniform," Harwood said.

Later that morning, having telephoned the police for advice about complaining about a traffic warden, Harwood went to Bury police station to report the incident. When he got there he was arrested, to which he commented: "You're joking."

Harwood, who had admitted a charge of parking in a loading at an earlier hearing, was convicted of both charges.

Dr Vic Soper, chairman of the magistrates, said they did not believe Harwood's version of events and commented that it was not the actions of a "law abiding or reasonable citizen to try and race away from the consequences of illegal parking".

"This was an assault on someone doing their public duty in a position of authority," he said.

Harwood was released on unconditional bail as sentencing was adjourned until February 28, for reports to be compiled.

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