Heacham tattooist in row with police who towed away broken down car

SNETTISHAM PARKING                                                                               'Richard Stephenson wonders where his car has gone ANL-140519-130438001
SNETTISHAM PARKING 'Richard Stephenson wonders where his car has gone ANL-140519-130438001
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A tattooist locked in a dispute with police after officers towed away his car has refused to pay the bill to get his vehicle released.

Heacham man Richard Stephenson left his ageing Rover 45 parked off the A149 in Snettisham after it broke down at night on his way home.

When he returned the next morning it had gone. He reported it to police – only to be told officers had towed it away.

The 44-year-old, of South Beach, is now refusing to pay a bill of £450 – and rising – to release his car from a recovery compound.

Police claim the car was not displaying a tax disc and was parked dangerously.

Mr Stephenson said it was off the road on a grass verge with its tax disc on display. It has a MoT certificate and is insured.

Mr Stephensonclaimed towing it away was “unnecessary and morally wrong”.

He said: “My car was off the road and in no one’s way.

“Through no fault of my own I broke down. I left the car off the road and arranged to retrieve it the next morning. What else could I possibly have done?

“My car was fully road worthy and legal. Had it not been then I could understand, but it had everything it should.”

Mr Stephenson said the vehicle was also in his name, so it would have been easy for the officers to trace him.

But he said: “At no point did the officers try to contact me and ask why my car was there.

“Anything could have happened. It could have been stolen or something could have happened to me.

“Even worse, how did they know it wasn’t being driven by a young female, maybe with children? This was unfair and wrong on so many levels.”

The car was towed away on May 9 and taken to Tears Recovery in Lynn. It costs £250 to have it released, with the bill rising by £20 per day, but Mr Stephenson is refusing to pay.

A police spokesman said: “A number of local officers spotted the broken down vehicle and, to ensure the safety of other motorists on what is a busy road, arranged for it to be towed away.

“Norfolk Constabulary has received a complaint from Mr Stephenson. The matter is being investigated and we will be in contact with him in due course.”