Customs man hit commuter in argument over seat

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A SENIOR customs officer was yesterday found guilty of assaulting a man who had asked him to move his feet from a train seat.

Graham Hutchinson, 33, a pounds 19,000-a-year higher executive officer of Dover, Kent, had drunk six pints of Fullers ESB while celebrating a colleague's transfer to another department, the Old Bailey was told.

Edward Canning, 51, a projects engineer, was travelling home to Tonbridge, when Hutchinson boarded the train at Waterloo.

Mr Canning told the court that he asked Hutchinson to move his feet from the seat of the first-class compartment. 'I said that somebody else has to sit there but there was no reaction.'

He then asked to see Hutchinson's ticket. 'I thought that if he had a second class one I could get the guard,' Mr Canning said.

When Hutchinson refused Mr Canning returned to his book. He looked up to see Hutchinson standing in front of him. 'I heard the words 'I'll show you' and then he was hitting me about the head. He hit my glasses and knocked them off.'

Mr Canning was punched around the head and only stopped the attack by pulling the emergency cord and halting the train, the court was told.

Hutchinson said he was falling asleep in the compartment which he believed to be declassified. He had a standard season ticket.

He told the court that he was suddenly confronted by a British Transport police officer. 'He said something along the lines of 'You know you hit somebody?' I said 'I have not hit anyone'.'

Hutchinson was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay pounds 300 compensation and pounds 300 costs.