Bullying clamper jailed in car case

A car clamper who locked a motorist in his dimly-lit secure compound has been jailed for four months.

Paul Hodgkiss, 37, convicted of false imprisonment, was told by Judge Michael Henshell: “You regarded yourself as above and beyond the law.

“Your behaviour at best can be described as bullying and high handed. The victim was humiliated and frightened as you intended him to be.

“You bullied him for your own amusement and gratification and I regard this as the least sentence I can impose.”

Plumber Anthony Smith left a note on his dashboard giving his whereabouts when he parked his van in a bay at flats where he was working.

Hodgkiss, boss of Checkmate Security, towed the van away as he was entitled to and Mr Smith paid the fee of 180 to get it back.

Hodgkiss, who was angry and abusive, then locked him in the compound under railway arches and drove away.

Father-of-two Hodgkiss, of Charlesworth Avenue, Hindley Green, Wigan had pleaded not guilty at Manchester Crown Court. In a four-day trial he denied locking Mr Smith in the compound or being aggressive as the plumber spoke to police on his mobile in the compound.

Hodgkiss, who said his income was 50,000 last year, claimed the plumber locked himself in after he left to carry on working.

Prosecutor Ian Metcalfe said Mr Smith, 42, from Rochdale, was called to the emergency at a city centre apartment at night in April last year. He left a large sign on his dashboard saying he was working. Fifty minutes later the vehicle had disappeared.

He contacted the clamping firm and was given a lift to the pound. He handed Hodgkiss the 180.

He told the court: “I thought he was going to turn violent and attack me. He was shouting and screaming I should go... then I realised he had locked the gates and left.”

The jury took nearly three hours to convict the well-built, 6ft 2in Hodgkiss. His lawyers say he may appeal.