Belfast Telegraph

I watched in horror as Belfast warden gave dead man parking ticket

BY CLAIRE MCNEILLY

A woman has spoken of her horror after she saw a traffic warden issue a parking ticket to a minibus in which a man had died.

The distressed eyewitness, who asked not to be named, came upon the scene at a taxi rank outside Jury's Inn Hotel in Belfast city centre.

She was among a number of bystanders who became upset upon learning what had happened during the incident which took place around 8.30am last Tuesday.

Police confirmed they had been called to a death outside the front steps of a hotel in Great Victoria Street and said that it was not suspicious.

Eyewitness reports have revealed that the man was slumped in a front seat of a silver tourist Mercedes minibus, which was parked outside the hotel in a public hire taxi rank.

Bystanders said he was motionless and appeared to have slid down in the seat when a traffic warden arrived and issued a ticket.

UK-wide franchise NSL, which is the company responsible for traffic wardens in Belfast, has not been in direct contact with the dead man's relatives.

A spokeswoman for the firm said she believed it would be a "gross invasion of privacy to approach the family in these tragic circumstances".

However, NSL did issue a formal statement in the aftermath of the unfortunate incident saying its "thoughts and sympathies are with the family of the person" who passed away.

The spokeswoman also said the traffic warden had not been disciplined over what happened as he did not realise the man had died.

And she stressed that the ticket had been cancelled within minutes of being issued.

The woman who witnessed what happened first-hand from outside Jury's Inn Hotel, at the corner of Murray Street and Great Victoria Street, said people were disgusted. "The body was in a silver Mercedes tourist minibus which was parked just feet from the door of Jury's," she said.

"I saw the traffic warden talking to a policeman.

"Then he appeared to lift the ticket only to put it back on the vehicle again.

"The person who died was sitting in the front of the minibus but then he was moved into the back and a blanket was put over the body."

Another eyewitness saw the traffic warden issuing the fine.

"He rapped the window of the minibus, and when the dead person didn't move, he put a parking ticket on the minibus," said the source.

"People on the street and police at the scene were upset."

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service confirmed that they sent a crew to the scene in response to a police callout at 8.40am on Tuesday, July 30.

"It became immediately clear that the man was dead so we left the scene shortly afterwards," a spokesman added.

A spokeswoman from NSL said a penalty charge notice (PCN) had been issued on Tuesday morning "because it was parked in a taxi rank".

"As soon as the traffic attendant became aware of the circumstances, the Department (for Regional Development) was informed and immediately cancelled the PCN," she said.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family of the person," she added.

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