12:30pm Thursday 23rd February 2012
FOUR men and a woman who worked for an illegal car clamping firm have been jailed for a total of nearly eight years.
Motorists were bullied and intimidated by employees of Midland Parking Contracts and forced to pay up to £335 for their vehicles to be released.
Signs prohibiting parking were too small, unlit at night, hidden or put up after victims had parked their cars.
Vulnerable people such as disabled pensioners were targeted, Worcester Crown Court was told.
Company boss Andrew Minshull made an estimated £500,000 profit over a three-year period from 19 sites all over the Midlands, including in Evesham.
Minshull, aged 38, of Hatfield Close, Redditch, was jailed for 32 months.
Others sentenced were: Minshull’s ex-girfriend Debbie Worton, 43, of Longdon Close, Redditch, 12 months; Simon Barry, 38, of Lilac Close, Evesham, 21 months; Christopher Cartwright, 31, of Salisbury Drive, Kidderminster, 15 months; Faisal Qadeer, 35, of Mount Pleasant, Redditch, 15 months.
A sixth defendant, Lloyd Isherwood, 39, of Groveley Lane, Birmingham, had his case adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be completed. All the accused pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to defraud.
Judge John Cavell said MPC became a vehicle to “milk the public” by its “blatant abuse of authority and power”.
He said the firm’s office was a fiction, only used as a postal address, and its brochure was a cynical representation of how MPC conducted itself.
The judge said it was “inconceivable” that Minshull did not know what his employees were doing.
Worton was “at the heart of the company” dealing with aggrieved motorists under a false identity and “fobbing” people off. She was also prone to scream and shout down the phone at those who complained.
Barry played a significant role by negotiating with landowners for new sites to patrol, said the judge.
And he branded the treatment of motorists by clampers Cartwright and Qadeer “disgraceful”.
MPC charged a release fee of £125 and added another £170 to the bill to cancel a truck used to tow vehicles away.
Michael Garrett, for Minshull, said he was licensed by the Security Industry Authority after attending a course. His firm began legally but he later “turned a blind eye” to the clampers’ behaviour.
He stood to lose his new business – a breakdown service for motorists – his own home and his mother’s home in Birmingham Road, Redditch, on which he paid the mortgage.
Peter Cooper, for Debbie Worton, said she was controlled by Minshull and followed his instructions.
He had subjected the mother-of-two to domestic violence.
Tim Green, for Barry, conceded that the fatherof- one became aware that methods of enforcement used against drivers were illegal.
Jonathan Page, for Cartwright, said his physical size could be intimidating.
But he only got £35 for a sole clamping operation and £20 for a joint one.
Niall Skinner, for Qadeer, said he was tempted by money and became a pawn.
A court hearing will be held later in the year to confiscate profits.
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