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Acquitted jeweller Richard Hilton, owner of Bleak House in Broadstairs, slapped with a restraining order

A Ramsgate jeweller – who owns Bleak House in Broadstairs – left court with a grim warning despite being acquitted of a race-hate crime.

Richard Hilton, 67, had been accused of racially aggravated insults to two men causing them harassment, alarm or distress.

But Mr Hilton, of Sandwich Road, Cliffsend, was found not guilty of the offence, which was alleged to have taken place in September 2013.

Richard Hilton outside Bleak House
Richard Hilton outside Bleak House

Prosecutor Ian Foinette had alleged he had used racist language after chasing a customer who had come into his shop to complain about a watch.

The boss of Margate jewellers Hiltons conducted his own defence during the hearing at Canterbury Crown Court. He denied making the offensive remarks.

As the suited jeweller was about to leave the dock, Judge Adele Williams told him to remain until the jury had left.

Then she slapped a restraining order on him to keep away from the two men who had made the complaint, Vincent Palmer and Mark Buckley – neither of whom gave evidence at the hearing.

She also ordered Mr Hilton to stay away from witness Zoe Bartlett telling him: “It is open to me, even on a verdict of not guilty, to make a restraining order.

“And in this case, I consider it absolutely essential to make an order preventing you from having any contact whatsoever, whether direct or indirect with (the three).

“Be aware that any attempt to contact them in the next two years will leave you in breach of this order and liable to imprisonment.”

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