Worcestershire car clampers who 'milked the public' jailed
Five people who "milked" the public in an illegal car clamping operation in Worcestershire have been jailed.
Worcester Crown Court was told that Redditch-based Midland Parking Contracts may have made up to £500,000.
The defendants, including the company's owner Andrew Minshull and his partner Debbie Worton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud last month.
Judge John Cavell said they were guilty of milking the public and causing fear and distress on their victims.
Minshull, 38, of Hatfield Close, Redditch was sentenced to 32 months with Worton, 43, from the same address, being jailed for a year.
Simon Barry, 38, of Lilac Close, Evesham, was jailed for 21 months.
Faisal Qadeer, 35, of Mount Pleasant, Redditch, and Christopher Cartwright, 31, of Salisbury Drive, Kidderminster, were both jailed for 15 months.
Lloyd Isherwood, 39, of Groveley Lane, Birmingham, also admitted conspiracy to defraud, but will be sentenced at a later date.
The charges were brought after a joint investigation by West Mercia Police and Worcestershire's trading standards department following hundreds of complaints from members of the public.
Worcester Crown Court was told that Redditch-based Midland Parking Contracts intimidated drivers into parting with up to £335 to unclamp vehicles and cancel tow-truck call-outs.
Opening the case, prosecutor Anthony Potter said the business had operated at 19 sites, including Redditch, Nuneaton, Evesham, Worcester, Coventry, Bromsgrove, and Cheltenham.
Mr Potter said the conspiracy's victims, including meter readers for water and power companies, a disabled woman displaying a blue badge, and even a man visiting a mental health centre, were targeted between March 2006 and August 2009.
The court heard that warning signs were either not prominent or on at least one occasion were erected after motorists had parked.
Mr Potter told the court: "It's difficult to put an accurate figure on the proceeds - we suggest a figure of up to £500,000, but it is very difficult to be specific."
The court also heard that Worton used an alias to fob off aggrieved drivers who complained by telephone, while appeal letters and county court judgements were ignored by the firm, which had a postal address in Birmingham.