Speeding Doncaster driver says he will pay fine to neighbour in row with police over van theft

A Doncaster driver fined for speeding has said he will pay his fine directly to a neighbour whose van was stolen and which he says police failed to investigate properly.

By Darren Burke
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 10:58 am

Patrick Owen says he will pay the £100 penalty to his neighbour whose van was stolen last October rather than the authorities over what he says were failures in the probe into the theft.

Mr Owen and van owner Lee Johnson say they provided numerous pieces of evidence to South Yorkshire Police, including CCTV footage of the van being stolen as well as confirmed sightings after its theft.

An angry Mr Owen has now written to South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings demanding he be allowed to pay the cash directly to his neighbour as compensation.

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Mr Owen says he will pay his speeding fine directly to his neighbour.

In an open letter to Dr Billings, Mr Owen of Cusworth, said: “A neighbour recently had his van stolen off his drive, a crime that caused him a lot of stress and made running his business extremely difficult.

"We heard about this the next morning via posts on Facebook, which included CCTV footage of the thief pushing the van onto the road and driving off, closely followed by a car.”

Mr Owen later spotted the van while working at an industrial estate in Churchill Road and alerted his neighbour who contacted police.

He added: “Meanwhile I noticed that someone was moving the van. I immediately dialled 999 and the officer asked how I could be sure that the driver was not sent by the owner, so no action. It wasn't the case.

“When I e-mailed your office to ask why, despite several positive sightings of his van, the police had done nothing, a lady called me to explain that you didn't have the resources to follow up this crime and that you have to prioritise what actions you can take.

“I recently got flashed by a speed camera doing 46mph in a 40mph area, and accept that I have broken this regulation and will pay the penalty.

"This in part is because it is the correct thing to do, but also it is because I am quite sure that you will find the resources and will prioritise prosecuting me, even to the extent of making me a criminal.

“So I am again writing to you in the hope that you will reconsider some of your priorities and do what the public expect you to do, chase and catch criminals and prevent crime.

"You don't need me to tell you what an appalling reputation the police have right now, both here and nationally, and so I am offering you the opportunity to make amends to one member of the public whose trust you have betrayed, and have made out my penalty cheque of £100 to my neighbour, Mr Lee Johnson

“Interestingly, when I contacted Mr Johnson to check some details of these events, he told me that his van has just been recovered, but only because it was reported as abandoned in Leicester.

"It is however little comfort to him as his insurance company has settled his claim and won't allow him to buy it back, and as yet its condition is unknown. He has been unable to find a replacement so far.”

We have contacted the PCC’s office for a response.