Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Fareham driver guilty of traffic warden false race slur

A man has been found guilty of falsely claiming a traffic warden racially abused and attacked him to avoid paying for a parking ticket in Hampshire.

Ben Hlal had parked on double yellow lines in Fareham when he was caught by a civic enforcement officer (CEO).

The 45-year-old, originally from Tunisia, also claimed a doctor had racially abused him outside a hospital.

Hlal, of Fareham, was convicted of two counts of perverting the course of justice and bailed ahead of sentencing.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard traffic warden Andrew Lynch warned Hlal in November 2009 that he was parked illegally and a parking ticket would be issued if he did not move on.

But by the time Mr Lynch returned to the vehicle, Hlal had claimed to another officer he had been racially abused and assaulted by Mr Lynch.

The traffic warden was arrested and questioned by police for three hours and suspended from his job at Fareham Borough Council.

He was allowed back to work more than five weeks later when police decided there was no case to answer.

Prosecuting, Louisa Bagley said: "Mr Hlal wanted to get around having to pay for that penalty ticket and hence made this allegation in order to avoid paying for that ticket."

Hlal's estranged wife, Diane Bateman, 52, originally from West Bromwich but who lives in Gosport, was also found guilty of the same charge.

Her offence was to give a police statement supporting Hlal's accusation.

The jury also heard that consultant doctor Neil Buchanan had approached Hlal when he had parked in a disabled bay without a blue badge outside the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

Hlal went on to falsely accuse Dr Buchanan of racially assaulting him, leading to him also being arrested and questioned by police.

Both defendants were released on bail ahead of sentencing on 4 February.

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