A 25-year-old man has been cleared of racially abusing the firefighter son of former England cricketer Basil D'Oliveira.
Magistrates in Worcester acquitted Lee Brown yesterday after his girlfriend told them her brother was responsible for calling Leading Firefighter Shaun D'Oliveira a "black bastard".
Father-of-one Brown, of Teme Road, Tolladine, Worcester, had denied racially aggravated harassment in connection with the incident on November 24 last year in nearby Avon Road.
The court heard that Mr D'Oliveira was leading a fourstrong crew from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service who were deployed shortly after 7pm to reports of a car fire.
On their arrival, they spoke to Brown, who told them that his maroon Ford Sierra was not on fire and that the call-out was a false alarm.
Giving evidence, Mr D'Oliveira said he knocked on the door of the defendant's partner's home and was then racially abused by a man wearing a baseball cap as he tried to inform the vehicle owner the car's battery had been disconnected as a precaution.
"The first thing I heard from the gentleman was when he started shouting at me. He said, 'F*** off, f*** off, you black bastard - just leave it'," the firefighter recalled.
"He seemed agitated and angry. I don't know why."
Giving their reasons for the not guilty verdict, magistrates said there had been no firm identification of Brown as the person involved.
They said there was " reasonable doubt" that Brown was not the person responsible.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr D'Oliveira said he did not regret taking the matter to court. "The support has always been there from the fire brigade and there have been incidents in the past but I normally just carry on with the job," he said.
"Members of the ambulance service are also getting a lot of abuse at the moment and you need to take a stance occasionally and just stand up for your rights."
Mr D'Oliveira's South African-born father was considered "coloured" under the apartheid regime and was barred from first-class cricket in the country but later played 44 tests for England.
The batsman, who also played for Worcestershire, was at the centre of a bitter row when he was left out of the England side for their 1968-1969 tour of South Africa for political reasons. He was reinstated when another player dropped out of the tour. South Africa cancelled the tour.
He has since been commemorated with a trophy named after him whenever England play South Africa.
Worcester Fire Station manager Mike Cunningham vowed that similar abuse would be met by a prosecution in the future.
"We need to protect our staff from this sort of abuse," he said. "Instances like this are very rare but in the future we will take action where appropriate and we will give our officers all the support we can and encourage them to come to court."