A TRAFFIC warden slapped two huge prison vans with fines for being parked outside the crown court's front door.

The vehicles, used to transport more than a dozen prisoners for police to Reading Crown Court, were both given parking tickets for stopping on double yellow lines to take their defendants into court and avoid the risk of any of them absconding.

One onlooker, who said he was amazed at the enthusiasm with which the council-employed warden slapped the tickets on the windscreens of the prison vans which had blacked out windows, said he thought the man was over-stepping his authority.

"It is quite obvious that the vans are too big to be driven into the court's back entrance so who can blame the prison escorts for parking as near to the front entrance of the crown court for safety reasons.

"The white vans are quite big but were not causing any obstruction on the road and were only there for a short time while the prisoners were escorted inside the court."

Bemused prison guards, employed by the GEOamey firm which has the contract to deliver inmates from jail to court, refused to comment on being slapped with the fines.

A spokesman form Reading Borough Council said: "The two prison vans were not parked outside the court but on double yellow lines in a narrow street to the side of Reading Crown Court.

"A civil enforcement officer observed the vans left unattended for nearly 10 minutes before issuing penalty charge notices.

"The court does have above and below ground parking/loading areas to the rear of the building for prison vehicles."