Man who ‘played race card’ to avoid parking fine jailed

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A SALES rep who ‘played the race card’ to get out of a parking ticket has been jailed for a year.

Ben Hlal told police he was attacked by traffic warden Andrew Lynch after parking on yellow lines near Asda in Fareham.

The 45-year-old even got his former wife, Diane Bateman, to back up his story in the hope Fareham Borough Council would drop his parking fine.

But the police became suspicious of Hlal’s version of events when he repeatedly complained about the pace of their inquiry and was abusive to staff.

When detectives investigated further they found Hlal had been at the centre of a similar incident the year before.

On that occasion the father-of-three, who is originally from Tunisia, accused a doctor of racially abusing him after he parked in a disabled bay.

Hlal, of Knowle Avenue, Knowle Village, was found guilty of two charges of perverting the court of justice after a trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.

In sentencing him, Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘This was a concerted and determined tactic employed by you, Hlal, on two separate occasions and pursued to the bitter end to make a deliberately false allegation against two innocent men.

‘Your motivation was partly self interest in getting yourself out of a situation where you were clearly wrong and partly in anger that anyone should have the temerity to challenge you.

‘You deliberately played the race card, knowing it would cause maximum embarrassment to those on the receiving end and that it would be treated seriously by the authorities.’

The Fareham traffic warden was arrested and suspended from his job for five weeks after Hlal’s claims that he had grabbed him around the throat and shouted racist abuse in November 2009.

Judge Hetherington said this had caused the warden ‘considerable anxiety and stress’.

Kate Freemantle, defending, said Hlal still insisted he was telling the truth.

His estranged wife, Bateman, 52, of The Curve, Gosport, was found guilty of one charge of perverting the course of justice. She was also told to pay £500. She was given a six month sentence suspended for a year and 100 hours of unpaid work.