I wish I could say I was surprised.
UPDATE: Reader “eeky” points out this earlier story:
Monday, September 29, 2008
A man accused of beating a DVLA inspector with a broom handle as walked free from court after claiming his alleged victim had exaggarated the incident.
Inspector Hayden Hart had claimed he was attakced my[sic] Paul Clarke, 26, as he patrolled Wood Street, Merstham, checking parked cars for out-of-date tax discs.
The inspector said he was clubbed repeatedly by his attacker, who warned him: “If you come near my vehicle again, I’ll break your f****** legs.”
But Mr Clarke, of Wood Street, Merstham, walked free from the Crown Court at Guildford after winning his appeal against conviction for assault by beating at Redhill Magistrates Court on March 12 this year.
Mr Clarke, 26, of Nailsworth Crescent, Merstham, denied the offence, insisting he had never actually struck Mr Hart during the confrontation on June 12 last year (2007).
The court was told that Mr Hart was driving along Wood Street stopping to inspect parked vehicles to make sure that they were displaying valid vehicle excise licenses.
Giving evidence at the appeal hearing, Mr Hart said: “I had seen four vehicles which I was going to report for not having up-to-date tax discs.”
He said he was inside his Honda filling out the appropriate forms when he heard a loud bang on his window and looked up to see a young man.
Mr Hart said: “He was carrying a broom stick without the head on the end of it.”
He said the man appeared very aggressive and threatened violence against him.
“As I got out of my car to ask him what he was doing, he struck me on the arm two or three times with the handle,” he said.
Mr Hart said he grabbed hold of the stick and there was a scuffle before the other man walked off.
He said he suffered extensive bruising on his arm and had to have time off work because he felt so shaken by the incident.
“I felt very depressed,” he said.
However, under cross-examination by defence counsel Richard McConaghy, he admitted the bruises might have been caused when he had leapt out of his vehicle to see what was going on.
Mr Clarke said he had confronted Mr Hart because he thought he had seen him trying to steal something from his pick-up truck.
“I didn’t realise he was a DVLA inspector. He might have been a prolific thief,” he said.
He said he had the broom because he had been sweeping up some glass in the road – and the head, which was loose, had fallen off during the fracas.
Mr Clarke accused Mr Hart of exaggerating his injuries, adding: “I reckon he wanted some time off work and compensation.”
After the court was told that it was not possible to prove that the bruising to Mr Hart’s arm had actually been caused by Mr Clarke, prosecuting counsel Laurence Aiolfi applied to have the offence changed from assault by beating to one of common assault.
But the judge, Mr. Recorder Stuart Lawson-Rogers, refused to agree to this – allowing Mr Clarke’s appeal to succeed.
Eeky and I seem to agree that someone decided Mr. Clarke needed to pay his debt to society for failing to conform to the “passive victim” standard. Loaded sawed-off shotguns don’t magically appear in most people’s gardens.