Car clampers coined in £350,000 while claiming benefits
THREE cowboy clampers have been jailed after terrorising motorists out of £350,000 – while they claimed State benefits.
The fat-bellied thugs wore uniforms to look official as they lay in wait day and night to bully vulnerable motorists – often mothers with children.
A court heard their fees were up to an “eye-watering” £500, and they demanded payment in cash.
Taunton Crown Court was told Carlton Williams, 47, Lee Stagg, 43, and 30-year-old Michael Riddle lurked in shadows and pounced on unsuspecting drivers who parked on private land.
The trio would intimidate them into handing over large cash sums, while some cars were lifted onto tow trucks with the horrified motorist still inside.
They operated their A1 Clamping Services from Bridgwater, Somerset, but expanded their trade to Torbay, Devon, and into Staffordshire.
They also targeted their local Bridgwater Carnival in 2006, towing away numerous cars.
Williams was jailed for five and a half years, Stag for three years and Riddle for 18 months after they admitted blackmail charges of £3,775, but police believe they netted around £350,000 from their cowboy activities.
Williams and Stagg also admitted they were fiddling council tax, housing benefit and income support to the tune of £54,000.
Judge Graham Hume Jones said: “It is clear that in the course of this business you extorted considerable sums of money from members of the public by arrogant, bullying and aggressive behaviour.”
Williams was the ringleader and Riddle the clamper in the firm’s activities between 2005 and 2008.
One victim was Army major Sally Mendonca, from York, whose car was clamped and towed away when on a visit to Devon.
She thought her vehicle had been stolen and was about to tell police, adding: “I explained the situation to the clamper – I was just back from Iraq for a short time and all my military kit was in the back of the car I needed it urgently.
“He laughed and said ‘I just get told these stories all the time’.”
Sgt Paul Endicott, from Avon and Somerset police, said: “I was shocked by the way they treated people.
“The judge clearly stated they wore uniforms to make them look more authentic and they bullied people into handing over lots of money for their own property.”
CLAMPDOWN: Carlton Williams ( Michael Riddle and Lee Stagg must now clamp their
bum cheeks in jail