A PENSIONER has been cleared of racially aggravated assault after allegedly hurling abuse and punching a man in a row over parking.

Alfred Vassallo, 72, was also charged with common assault after the altercation in Asda car park, Turner Rise Retail Park, Colchester, in September last year.

Mr Vassallo, of Straight Road, Boxted, was cleared of both charges at a trial at Colchester Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

The prosecution alleged the defendant launched a tirade of racist abuse at Victor Effaing after he complained about Mr Vassallo’s parking.

Mr Vassallo also allegedly spat at and punched Mr Effaing through his open window.

Ami Jones, prosecuting, said: “Mr Effaing parked in the parent and child spaces and in doing so noticed a vehicle parked next to him without children, just the defendant and his wife.

“Mr Eiffaing pointed out the spaces were for parents and children and the defendant replied ‘who the hell do you think you are to tell me that, shut your mouth’.

Miss Jones said he also told Mr Effaing to “go back to where he came from”.

She said: “When Mr Effaing responded he replied ‘you heard what I said, you should go back’.” We have not used the racist phrases Mr Vassallo was alleged to have used.

It was claimed the defendant punched Mr Effaing three times in the head before spitting in his face.

During the trial District Judge John Woollard heard from four witnesses, including Mr Effaing, his partner Miglena Tsvetanova, who was in the car at the time of the incident, Asda employee Tara Cruickshank and off-duty police officer Adele Brown.

Miss Tsvetanova said she did not witness any punches, but heard Mr Vassallo racially abuse her partner.

PC Adele Brown said she saw the defendant lean into Mr Effaing’s vehicle through the window, but did not witness an assault, though she added Mr Vassallo’s mouth appeared to be bleeding.

After hearing from the four witnesses, Judge Woollard said he had no choice but to dismiss the charges.

He said: “There is no firm basis on which I can come to the conclusion of assault. Without the assault the racial aggravation comes to nothing.”