The owner of a notorious Birmingham car clamping company who conned motorists out of hundreds of pounds has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Steven Ryan, who headed up Car Clamping Securities, which used a faulty meter at Roses car park in Digbeth, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and controlling an article for the use of fraud.
Sentencing the 55-year-old, of St Bernards Road, Solihull, at Birmingham Crown Court on Thursday, Judge Murray Creed said: “People believed they were parking their cars safely and securely as they went to go about their business.
“It was cynical. It denied people the benefit they should have had.”
The court heard that the meter at Roses car park was fitted with a computer chip so that, although it accepted two pounds coins and issued a ticket, no credit was given to the motorist.
Customers would leave their cars thinking they had paid the right amount, only to return and discover their car had been taken to the company’s compound in Ladywood.
They were then forced to pay more than £300 to get it back. When the disgruntled victims tried to argue with the clampers they were met with hostility.
Ryan, who has a previous conviction for deception from more than 20 years ago, was handed a 30-month custodial sentence for conspiracy to defraud, and a further nine months, to run concurrently, for being in control of the pay and display machine.
Ryan’s alleged “second in command” Christopher Woodham, aged 43, of Bondfield Road, Billesley, was also sentenced for conspiracy to defraud.
He was given 51 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, and 200 hours of unpaid work.
The case was dropped against Paul Wright, aged 35, of Shannon Road, Kings Norton, and Jaroslaw Kula, aged 28, of Alcester Road, Moseley.
The convictions were secured following a joint operation between police and Birmingham Trading Standards.
Councillor Neil Eustace, chairman of the public protection committee, said: “We hope this will send out a clear message; that illegal car clamping will not be tolerated and those conducting such activities will not only face prosecution but also jail.”