Police smashed their way into a fly-filled car believing a dead body might be inside and its jobless north Norfolk owner is now faced with a bill of several hundred pounds.

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Officers were called to North Walsham’s Mundesley Road car park after a passer-by noticed a swarm of bluebottles buzzing around inside the Chrysler Neon and became concerned.

But, after smashing the rear windscreen, police discovered not a decaying corpse, but a fishing-tackle box.

Owner George Wallis, who fishes as a hobby, said it had contained maggots which must have hatched and escaped into the car interior during the three or four-day period his vehicle had been in the free car park.

Unable to contact Mr Wallis at the time, police arranged for the damaged vehicle to be towed to a garage in Great Yarmouth and he has now been told he must pay a £150 towing fee, plus £20-a-day storage.

Mr Wallis, 40, who lives in Market Place, North Walsham, is furious that he is expected to pay the bill when his car was legally parked and secure.

“The police made my vehicle insecure by breaking into it. They should pay, not me,” he said.

“I can’t afford to get it back but I need a vehicle. Jobs in this area are difficult to find and you need your own transport to get to places.

“I’ve given the go-ahead now for it to be scrapped because I can’t afford to get it back, but scrapping will cost me £75 and I don’t know whether I’ll still have to pay the towing charge and storage,” said Mr Wallis, who moved to North Walsham last year from his native Whitley Bay, in the north-east.

A police spokesman said the car, which had had a flat tyre, appeared abandoned and a “very vast amount of flies” could be seen inside.

The spokesman added: “The amount was very concerning for the time of year and weather conditions.” The officer had had “genuine concerns about what could have been in the rear of the vehicle.”

Having smashed the rear window and found only fishing gear: “The officer was aware that he couldn’t leave the vehicle insecure, so he arranged for the vehicle to be recovered.

“Various checks were conducted to locate an owner but the vehicle was not registered with a new keeper, so an owner could not be immediately found.”

Under Section 17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace), police believed Mr Wallis was liable for any costs involved.

But the spokesman added: “if the owner disputes police actions or feels they shouldn’t pay, then they are able to write in to legal services at force headquarters.”

● The North Norfolk District Council-owned car park is currently the subject of negotiations over its future management between the district council and North Walsham Town Council. Meanwhile, it remained free to park there, according to a district council spokesman.

36 comments

  • Why should he pay for the damage they caused, yet alone the towing fee etc? The police should concentrate on more important matters.

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    KeithS

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • I don't think many people who work off shore or who have gone on holiday would leave an unregistered car with a flat tyre in a car park in North Walsham! The off shore worker would most likely leave his car in the office car park and the holiday makers would prob be at the ariport.

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • firstly the car was not legally parked as you can only park for about two hours on this car park.secondly if there had been a body in the car and police had done nothing people would still be moaning so police can't do anything right in some peoples views.i think this man should stop moaning and take the blame.

    Report this comment

    kaz

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • dave123, spot on, daisy roots regularly comments on stories, whilst missing the point and coming out with the most nonsensical answers ever. Before you start 'D.R' I am not a police officer, but the DVLA and the police as well as other organisations including my employer have my current mobile number which is available 247, which makes my vehicle and myself safer.

    Report this comment

    stevejo

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • As this was an old banger, the doors could have been popped open with a piece of stiff tape which every self respecting police officer used to carry around inside the lining of their helmets. Oh for a return to the days of beat craft. Our police may have all the techno gadgets at their command but getting into a car without damaging it seems beyond their ken nowadays. Should have Googled it first.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • Harry Rabinowitz said "A sensible move would have been to get a motoring organisation to open the door...." - so who would have paid for that then?!

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Sorry but Daisy Roots comment is right! read the comment properly before spouting off! I wouldn't be at all happy if this happened to me and I had to pay for the privile of the police damaging my vehicle! So the car had a flat tyre you never gone to your car and found a tyre flat? As for the car not on the DVLA computer takes time to appear if you change owner has anyone actually asked or have you just assumed? and so what if he in unemployed happens to many people what are they suppose to do give up their hobbies because of it? Doesn't mean he's not looking for work or is avalable does it? Just a page full of selfish people hope you never have anything like this happen to you or that you lose your job and end up with people ready to stick the boot in because they jump to conclusions!

    Report this comment

    City Boy

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • well done daveg exactly what most of us are thinking my husband loves fishing but has to go when he is on holiday from WORK

    Report this comment

    kaz

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • I know he's had the car scrapped so this won't matter, but in my opinion the police should have replaced the window, as for the recovery fees they are his and his alone, as stated this car park IS 2 hours MAX STAY 4 days is way past that and so towing is allowed

    Report this comment

    Reaper99

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • jeffy, please enlighten us all as to how many missing people are on the Police data base at the moment? If your answer is none then I will agree with your comment. The Police did not mess up, they done their job, and as previously stated, his insurance would have footed the bill but difficult to claim when you probably haven't got any. Must dash, fish to catch,opps, sorry, bus to catch as I haven't got a job and cannot afford a car.

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • I wouldn't go that far dave123 but SHE is missing the point!

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • A sensible move would have been to get a motoring organisation to open the door without doing damage! our forces of "law and order" get more like the Sweeney every day,just Mr Wallis misfortune to be at the receiving end!

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • He does look really annoyed.

    Report this comment

    nnaw

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • Was any attempt made to contact an owner or make enquiries before smashing the window - from the article it would appear that the officer acted on his own initiative and contact was attempted after the event.

    Report this comment

    Thoreauwasright

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • DAISY ROOTS- I am nothing to do with the Police,but like many others i don't like your pathetic comments and moans at people who are simply doing there jobs.Perhaps you could get a job? or something else to occupy your sad life.

    Report this comment

    dave123

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • For gods sake the poor chap has had a mishap it could happen to anyone,theres alot worse things in life to worry about.

    Report this comment

    foxey

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • Perhaps his Insurance company will help out, it was insured wasn't it ?

    Report this comment

    Paul Kersey

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • Wish i had time to be out there fishing and relaxing, but for some reasoon i can't. Oh i know, i have to work to pay the bills and keep my car paperwork up to date

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • If Mr Wallis had bothered to inform the DVLA he owned the vehicle (which is a legal requirement) he wouldn't have had this problem so it is entirely his fault! Police find a car which appears to be abandonded, not registered to an owner, full of flies, just what do you expect them to do? They did exactly what they should have, and not being able to trace an owner they removed it to a secure place, perfectly correct.

    Report this comment

    catalonia13

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Understand exactly why the police felt the need to force an entry into the vehicle, but surely there are garagers much closer to home than yarmouth ?

    Report this comment

    h

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • Dave G: Well said, no doubt the repairs may have been paid for by the working tax payer as well. Support the Police as opposed to moaning everytime they do something. No body else has ever made a mistake, have they!!!

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • The DVLA are so slow in updating driver details (and they lose paperwork too) that the chances are that Mr Wallis HAD informed them of the change of keeper, but they hadn't updated the details yet.. . . There must have been an awful lot of flies if the officer couldn't have simply looked in through the windows. And why smash the REAR windscreen... Common sense say to take out the smallest window (ie a side window). Alternatively, contact one of the local garages or AARAC etc to enter the car without damaging it.. There are garages within a few hundred yards of the carpark. . . . Maybe Mr Wallis has a permit for the carpark?? I don't know the carpark so can't know for sure if you need one or not...

    Report this comment

    Lord Elf

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • So you are in the enviable position of being contactable all the time Dave or are you a police worker? There are still quite a few people in the region who work offshore or abroad and not all of them have offstreet parking. When did being contactable become a legal requirement ? As long as you are happy to pay the financial cost of the actions of the police when you have done nothing wrong then good for you-because their spokesperson seems to think that PACE allows that.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Daisy, nobody said it was illegal to have a car full of flies, if the police had genuine concerns, what choice did they have. As Kaz said, damned if you do, damned if you don't. Still, shows the worth of keeping your details up to date.

    Report this comment

    crunchy dick

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • The police had concerns which they acted on, I agree this sounds heavy handed given that a vast amount of flies would imply definitely dead corpse as opposed to a mammal on the brink of death. The vehicle was not registered with the DVLA, and it had a flat tyre and the presence of flies would imply abandoned needing removal anyway. Mr Wallis does not get my sympathy I hope he is not let off the towing charge and storage, he shall just have to sell some fishing equipment and get a job.

    Report this comment

    George Ezekial

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • I think the free parking in Mundesley Road car park is limited to 2 hours. So how was the car legally parked if it was left there for 3 or 4 days?

    Report this comment

    opiumlady

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • Most people seem to be missing the point which is that the police seem to be able to do whatever damage they like and expect their victims to pick up the tab. If any one of us, with full insurance and parked legally had been the victim of a police action like this we would have had to pay for the repairs or our insurance premium would go up because of a claim and we would have to foot the bill for the car being towed to a safe place. We coud have been on holiday or working away from home-as far as I know my insurer does not have my mobile phone number-and been out of contact. It could have been a fur coat or soft toy mistaken for a dying pet,or even forgotten maggots,but we would not have committed a crime, there would have been no fault and it is entirely wrong for anyone to have to suffer financially in those circumstances. Even if the police were acting in good faith if there is no conviction they should have to pick up the bill for damage. Might make them think around problems a bit more intelligently-if someone was dead and there were flies there was all the time in the world to get a garage to open the car doors.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • There are a couple of points not made clear in the article: Was the car taxed, MOT'd and insured? and If the car was not registered to Mr Wallis how did they eventually contact him? If the car was road legal, and legally parked in a free car park, then anyone who damaged it should be liable for the cost of those damages, no matter how well intentioned they were. On the other hand, to my mind, if the car was not road legal and parked in a public car park, or legal but parked for four days in a car park with a two hour limit, then it is not so surprising for a police officer to assume it was abandoned and hence of no value to it's owner other than as scrap. That said who abandons cars these days? A couple of months back I got £200 from a scrap dealer for an MOT failure, which he also collected! All in all it seems to me to have been been a bit of an opera involving an over-excitable police officer and someone with a less than satisfactory attitude to parking rules.

    Report this comment

    Cyril the Canary

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • If it was illegal to park more than two hours why wasnt he given a ticket. It seems he hasnt broken any law, nor is it a crime to pursue the hobby of fishing. The police made a mistake and should be liable for the costs. I would sugest he took legal advice. Its the same when they smash down someones front door by mistake.

    Report this comment

    gerry mitson

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • Imagine the uproar if the police had ignored this car and a body was found days or weeks later. Give the boys in blue a break.

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    norman hall

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • As much as I would be annoyed with my car being damaged, ultimately if the officer has acted lawfully under Section 17 Pace to enter the vehicle to save life and limb, it's fair. Just one of those things, not sure why people make such a fuss. If the Police Officer hadn't bothered and it was your loved one in the boot, i'm betting you wouldn't be too happy either.

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    norwich_pp

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Daisy, how are we paying for the damage. As opiumlady says, he should have registered the vehicle which meant he could be traced. Great way to avoid tickets and speeding cameras though. You can't ignore a car full of flies.

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Monday, November 26, 2012

  • Ere...hello?.....was anyone reported missing, presumed missing, presumed slightly missing or even dead. Plod messed up. Simples.

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    jeffy

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • Only one person to blame for this incident and that is Mr Wallis who failed to register himself as the new owner and then left his car parked on a public car park for 3 days. If he had registered it the police could have contacted him without breaking in. Cry me a river Mr Wallis and then go and sort out your admin.

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    baguio

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

  • Also if Mr Wallis had registered himself as the owner of the car which he is legally obliged to do the police could have contacted him sooner. Perhaps a more balanced view of the stroy should be given?

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    opiumlady

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

  • Wasnt there a case recently of them breaking into a car because of a realistic soft toy dog on a hot day? Something other than maggots stinks if they can make a mistake and we have to pay for it. AFAIK there is nothing illegal about having a car full of flies.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, November 24, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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