Car park minder told to get licence
Police have formally warned New Plymouth's contentious wheel clamper Daniel Clout he is acting unlawfully by not having a licence.
The Taranaki Daily News believes the Department of Internal Affairs is actively investigating Clout's legal status.
It was revealed in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday that New Plymouth area commander Inspector Blair Telford wrote to Clout on November 16.
Mr Telford told Clout he was formally putting him on notice that "if you continue to conduct your property guard activities without either a licence or certificate of approval you are likely to be committing an offence under the PSPPI [Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act 2010] and may therefore be liable to prosecution".
Yesterday in court, Clout failed in his bid not to have a conviction lodged against his name - his first criminal conviction - for the assault of a tourist whose car he had just clamped.
The court heard that Clout had rung police 20 times in the past to help him when faced with irate motorists when they were clamped.
Late last year, the Taranaki Daily News also revealed that Clout put clamps on three wheels of a police car parked in a private car park.
The stand-off when police officers refused to pay Clout lasted for several hours but Clout stood his ground and was eventually paid.
It is believed that this was when Mr Telford stepped in and sought advice as to Clout's legal status.
In court yesterday, Judge Allan Roberts said in the case of the tourist in Richmond Centre on March 9, Clout lacked judgment.
Clout had returned to where he had just clamped the tourist's car and from whom he had just extracted a fine. The tourist had pushed Clout on the shoulder and Clout had punched him with a closed fist.
"You ought to have exercised a greater degree of self-discipline," Judge Roberts told Clout.
Clout took the assault charge to a defended hearing last year, saying his action was self-defence but Judge Bouchier found him guilty.
However, a conviction was not entered when his lawyer Kylie Pascoe said she would apply for a discharge without conviction for her client on the grounds the consequences of a conviction would be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence.
Ms Pascoe argued yesterday that a conviction would preclude her client from gaining a PSPPI licence and as a result his business would fail.
This would cause financial hardship to his family as he was the sole breadwinner for his wife and small baby, she said.
People failed to understand that her client was contracted by private landowners to do his work.
"He is simply carrying out the contractual obligations of the landowners," Ms Pascoe said.
Police prosecutor Craig Jones said Clout could still be issued a licence despite any police objections.
In his decision yesterday, Judge Roberts rejected Ms Pascoe's arguments, convicting Clout of assault.
The judge said even if he was not convicted Clout would have to acknowledge to any licensing body that a charge of assault was proved against him.
Clout had no remorse and still disputed the summary of facts.
His job was a difficult one dealing day to day with riled and aggressive members of the public, the judge said.
In a democratic society the public was entitled to be dealt with by responsible people "without fear of intimidation or assault", the judge said.
Clout was fined $350 plus court costs of $132.89.
Outside court, Clout, his wife and Ms Pascoe told the paper the judge's decision would be appealed. They did not say whether he would apply for a licence.
Taranaki Daily News