London

Barnet Councillor Brian Coleman admits parking row attack

Brian Coleman arrives at court on 5 November 2012
Image caption Brian Coleman admitted assault by beating

An ex-Conservative mayor has admitted attacking a woman as she filmed him parking illegally on a street where he had helped introduce unpopular charges.

Brian Coleman, a Barnet councillor, admitted a charge of common assault by beating at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court.

The 51-year-old was arrested in September after assaulting cafe owner Helen Michael in Finchley High Road.

His lawyer said he had been trying to stop her filming him on a mobile phone as he parked in a loading bay.

Coleman, of Essex Park in Finchley, was ordered to pay £1,385, including a £270 fine, prosecution costs of £850 and £250 to the victim as compensation.

Ms Michael, 50, a mother-of-two, who suffered injuries including scratches to her wrist and soreness to her shoulder and chest, called on Coleman to resign.

She said: "[I was] looking at my phone and all of a sudden he's upon me, it was pure shock.

"I think he's bullied and intimidated people for a long long time and I think he has now got what has been long overdue."

'Unpopular' parking charges

A charge of driving without reasonable consideration was dropped after the prosecution offered no evidence for it.

The court heard Coleman had helped bring in parking charges in the area which were "extremely unpopular" with local residents and businesses.

Ms Michael, a parking campaigner, filmed him after she was informed he had parked in a loading bay and was withdrawing money from a cash machine, the court heard.

Image caption Helen Michael said the attack was 'pure shock' and asked Coleman to resign

The incident was caught on CCTV and the footage shown in the court.

Sentencing Coleman, District Judge Deborah Wright said the "well-known politician" was a man of "previous good character" who had made significant contributions to society.

"I have no doubt that his motives were to avoid the embarrassment of the publicity," she said.

A struggle ensued and there can be "no doubt that struggle was instigated by Mr Coleman", the judge added.

Prosecution lawyer Manjit Mahal said: "He was applying one rule for himself and another for the traders."

But Neville Rudston, defending, said the incident had to be viewed in the context of a campaign "with uncomfortable and personal elements" which the councillor had faced.

Coleman decided to change his plea to guilty after he found it "difficult" to look at footage of the assault, the lawyer added.

After he was charged in October, Coleman was suspended by his party and stripped of his council committee duties.

He was mayor of Barnet between 2009-10 and chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

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