A New Plymouth motorist who attempted to ransom three wheel clamps avoided any penalty when he appeared in court.
Angered after finding three clamps on his car parked at the Richmond Centre in May, Peter William Tohu, 58, took matters into his own hands.
He managed to get his car out of the carpark, along with the clamps, and the next day texted Daniel Clout, of Egmont Security, offering them back for $150.
However, the method by which Tohu removed the clamps was not revealed to the court.
Tohu appeared before Judge Allan Roberts in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday charged with theft.
Police said Tohu had parked in a 40-minute area at the car park, patrolled by Egmont Security, about 5.20pm on May 30.
Clout has been the focus of numerous complaints to the Taranaki Daily News by members of the public angry at what they describe as his overzealous actions.
When Tohu returned to his car at 6.04pm he found two wheel clamps on it, police said.
Tohu made no attempt to contact the company and Clout put on a third clamp at 8pm.
However, when Clout again went to check the vehicle at 10pm it had gone.
Tohu texted Clout on June 1, telling him it would cost him $150 to get the clamps back.
He told police he believed he had been clamped illegally.
In court, Tohu said he had been at the gym and the receptionist timed him and he had moved his car from the park, within the 40 minutes, but after leaving the car park he returned to the same space.
Ten minutes later his car was clamped and Tohu claimed a wheel nut had been removed from his car. He said he had intended to return the clamps to Clout.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Kerry Yates said using three clamps on the vehicle seemed over the top.
Judge Roberts agreed. "I think it was mean-spirited for that man to put three clamps on your car."
He convicted and discharged Tohu.
Clout would not comment when contacted by the Taranaki Daily News yesterday.
He is due to appear in court himself on October 1, charged with the assault of a tourist in the Richmond Centre car park in March.
- Taranaki Daily News
Do you text while driving?Related story: New radar gun to catch texting drivers
Gear up for that big holiday drive
Tips on how to do a safe river crossing
On the road and prepared for the cold snap