City council fined for criminal damage after illegally crushing man's car

Oxford Mail: Martin Young Martin Young

OXFORD City Council has been given a criminal record and condemned by a judge for illegally crushing a man’s car.

The authority admitted criminal damage after its contractors seized Martin Young’s Ford Escort from near his home despite it being legally parked on private land.

The vehicle was later crushed.

Last night a council spokesman apologised and said it was the first time the authority had been convicted of a criminal offence.

Oxford magistrates heard Jeremy Franklin admit the charge, relating to the incident in May 2007, on behalf of the council.

Jo Sear, prosecuting, said Mr Young’s car was in poor condition after being vandalised and was parked on private land because the pensioner intended to repair it.

But after reports the car had been abandoned, the contractor seized it under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978.

Ms Sear said Mr Young thought the car had been stolen and reported it to the police. He later contacted the contractors, who confirmed it had been destroyed.

Ms Sear added Mr Young, of Headington Hill, had not received a letter informing him of the car’s removal as he should have done.

Matthew Corrie, defending, said the council had received reports of an abandoned vehicle which was a potential danger to members of the public because of its state.

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He added: “The council held its hands up from an early stage and the mistake was down to an administrative error.”

Deputy district judge Peter Greenfield said: “Mr Young’s proprietary rights were infringed by the council. The car may only have been valued at £350 but that is not the point. He had the right to leave it on private land.

“The council invoked powers which override the powers of citizens. This gives them immense rights which need to be used very carefully.”

Judge Greenfield fined the council £600, ordered it to pay £3,015 costs to Mr Young and a further £15 victim’s surcharge.

He added: “When a council invokes such a Draconian power they need the right system so it is not simply a blind approach.”

Mr Young said on Friday: “The money I have received will be to pay my lawyers’ fees, none of it benefits me. I wanted to make this point essentially for the public benefit – as well as giving the council a dose of what it had given me – and to disabuse the council officers of their general attitude that they are always right and we ‘peasants’ must do as we are told, and without complaint.”

City council spokesman Annette Cunningham said: “The council handles a large volume of abandoned cars and it is regrettable that a mistake was made with this one incident in 2007. We apologise to Mr Young for our error.”

Her colleague Louisa Dean added that “as far as the council’s legal department is aware” no restraints will be placed on the authority because of its criminal record.

Comments (10)

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6:57pm Tue 30 Mar 10

pater mcvey says...

Hallelujah. At last justice for the small man. Now perhaps, our all knowing, all powerful council will realise that they are really ignorant, powerless, jumped up little scroats, elected to SERVE us. Carry on like this O.C.C. and expect to give us back far more money than we pay in, threats about excess rubbish, dropping a dog-end, etc might see more of us in court challenging you. Start representing us instead of DICTATING to us, the bar has been set. Well done Mr Young.
Hallelujah. At last justice for the small man. Now perhaps, our all knowing, all powerful council will realise that they are really ignorant, powerless, jumped up little scroats, elected to SERVE us. Carry on like this O.C.C. and expect to give us back far more money than we pay in, threats about excess rubbish, dropping a dog-end, etc might see more of us in court challenging you. Start representing us instead of DICTATING to us, the bar has been set. Well done Mr Young. pater mcvey
  • Score: 0

9:56am Wed 31 Mar 10

oxbow says...

It would be nice if the council started to take note of the people it's meant to serve but fat chance I feel, I'd love to know what we can do about it as every council is as bad as the last.
It would be nice if the council started to take note of the people it's meant to serve but fat chance I feel, I'd love to know what we can do about it as every council is as bad as the last. oxbow
  • Score: 0

10:24am Wed 31 Mar 10

Lord Palmerston says...

I have no brief for the City Council; it's a mongrel. But by the same token I'd hate to see scrap motors littering the private land in Oxford. Being a pensioner one wonders why this gentleman had not got on with fixing the motor and bringing it back into use. He had the time, surely.
I have no brief for the City Council; it's a mongrel. But by the same token I'd hate to see scrap motors littering the private land in Oxford. Being a pensioner one wonders why this gentleman had not got on with fixing the motor and bringing it back into use. He had the time, surely. Lord Palmerston
  • Score: 0

12:43pm Wed 31 Mar 10

Andrew:Oxford says...

He wanted to make the point for the public benefit. That'll be the £3,630 visible costs and triple that for the council legal and admin costs. Say £15K to make the point. All charges to the local tax payer. On private land or not, leaving a vandalised car on public view is anti-social and a local authority would be right to do something about it.
He wanted to make the point for the public benefit. That'll be the £3,630 visible costs and triple that for the council legal and admin costs. Say £15K to make the point. All charges to the local tax payer. On private land or not, leaving a vandalised car on public view is anti-social and a local authority would be right to do something about it. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Wed 31 Mar 10

edy.khan says...

O.C.C workers are bunch of losers last month they fail to take my rubbish when i enquired they informed me that rubbish should be left outside on footpath not in driveway. Last week i left the rubbish on the footpath they sent me fine for blocking the pavement. They talk to you like you are there slave boss you about fine you destory your property take you to court. I call them legal mafia
O.C.C workers are bunch of losers last month they fail to take my rubbish when i enquired they informed me that rubbish should be left outside on footpath not in driveway. Last week i left the rubbish on the footpath they sent me fine for blocking the pavement. They talk to you like you are there slave boss you about fine you destory your property take you to court. I call them legal mafia edy.khan
  • Score: 0

3:19pm Wed 31 Mar 10

jamess says...

andrew - are you seriously suggesting people should not challenge decisions they think are wrong? That's why we have legal process. It's not the owners fault his car was vandalised, and he might not have had the means to repair it quickly. You're sounding as swift to condemn as the council originally were!
I would hope that the council would provide some kind of notice of intent and give a sufficient amount of time for people to re-tax/rectify faults before taking cars away?
andrew - are you seriously suggesting people should not challenge decisions they think are wrong? That's why we have legal process. It's not the owners fault his car was vandalised, and he might not have had the means to repair it quickly. You're sounding as swift to condemn as the council originally were! I would hope that the council would provide some kind of notice of intent and give a sufficient amount of time for people to re-tax/rectify faults before taking cars away? jamess
  • Score: 0

6:40pm Wed 31 Mar 10

Andrew:Oxford says...

jamess wrote:
andrew - are you seriously suggesting people should not challenge decisions they think are wrong? That's why we have legal process. It's not the owners fault his car was vandalised, and he might not have had the means to repair it quickly. You're sounding as swift to condemn as the council originally were!
I would hope that the council would provide some kind of notice of intent and give a sufficient amount of time for people to re-tax/rectify faults before taking cars away?
If, as the council says, it "held it's hands up at an early stage" and admitted fault... What was the benefit of going down the legal route to prove a point? It's just benefitted lawyers, and disadvantaged taxpayers. At least as a pensioner he can use the free buses (at the local taxpayers expense too).
[quote][p][bold]jamess[/bold] wrote: andrew - are you seriously suggesting people should not challenge decisions they think are wrong? That's why we have legal process. It's not the owners fault his car was vandalised, and he might not have had the means to repair it quickly. You're sounding as swift to condemn as the council originally were! I would hope that the council would provide some kind of notice of intent and give a sufficient amount of time for people to re-tax/rectify faults before taking cars away?[/p][/quote]If, as the council says, it "held it's hands up at an early stage" and admitted fault... What was the benefit of going down the legal route to prove a point? It's just benefitted lawyers, and disadvantaged taxpayers. At least as a pensioner he can use the free buses (at the local taxpayers expense too). Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

8:52pm Wed 31 Mar 10

Mandaliet says...

This guy is a martyr. The state has crushed his car and dropped a giant new Brookes building in his back yard. It's a good thing that they had the forethought to confiscate his four hundred and twenty-two shotguns first!
This guy is a martyr. The state has crushed his car and dropped a giant new Brookes building in his back yard. It's a good thing that they had the forethought to confiscate his four hundred and twenty-two shotguns first! Mandaliet
  • Score: 0

11:15pm Wed 31 Mar 10

Concerned one says...

A friend living in a very expensive part of London pays less council tax for the same banded house as I do. His council tax has been frozen for the fourth year running. He has his rubbish collected every week and his recyclables every week. His street is clean and tidy with no wheelie bins cluttering up the gardens, no wonder he thinks Oxford City Council is a joke. OCC and our councillors are a joke. It's time the residents of Oxford got a fair deal, well done to this man even if it did cost us money.
A friend living in a very expensive part of London pays less council tax for the same banded house as I do. His council tax has been frozen for the fourth year running. He has his rubbish collected every week and his recyclables every week. His street is clean and tidy with no wheelie bins cluttering up the gardens, no wonder he thinks Oxford City Council is a joke. OCC and our councillors are a joke. It's time the residents of Oxford got a fair deal, well done to this man even if it did cost us money. Concerned one
  • Score: 0

12:49pm Thu 1 Apr 10

pater mcvay says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
He wanted to make the point for the public benefit. That'll be the £3,630 visible costs and triple that for the council legal and admin costs. Say £15K to make the point. All charges to the local tax payer. On private land or not, leaving a vandalised car on public view is anti-social and a local authority would be right to do something about it.
His car, his land. It was not a health hazard harbouring rats, so no business of the council. If the council were so serious about clearing up eyesores, then they could start with every front garden East of Maggy Bridge.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: He wanted to make the point for the public benefit. That'll be the £3,630 visible costs and triple that for the council legal and admin costs. Say £15K to make the point. All charges to the local tax payer. On private land or not, leaving a vandalised car on public view is anti-social and a local authority would be right to do something about it.[/p][/quote]His car, his land. It was not a health hazard harbouring rats, so no business of the council. If the council were so serious about clearing up eyesores, then they could start with every front garden East of Maggy Bridge. pater mcvay
  • Score: 0

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