A MOTORIST has demanded an apology from police after community support officers allowed his prized Mini Cooper to be stolen and stripped for parts.

Officers were at the scene when the car was towed away by men who said they were asked to take it by a council employee, despite not having keys, logbooks, paperwork or the owner’s permission.

The Mini’s owner, Michael Collison, formerly of Recce’s Terrace, Cwmcarn, bought the grey car in December last year, and declared it statutorily off the road so he could keep it on a patch of unused land near his home while he worked on making it roadworthy again.

But on August 11, Mr Collison’s neighbour saw two men trying to load the Mini onto the back of a trailer in the company of two Gwent Police community support officers.

And after months of chasing the police over its removal, it has now emerged that the council did not issue any order for it to be towed, and that the 2002-registered car has been stripped for parts.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Mr Collison, 59, told the South Wales Argus.

“I moved to North Wales, but had left the car there temporarily with plans to bring it up.

“As soon as my neighbour got in touch I reported it stolen. My former housemate and I have been chasing Gwent Police ever since.”

Almost two months and plenty of emails later, an officer investigating the matter told Mr Collison they had tracked down his car to Abercynon, and had interviewed the two men who had taken it.

The pair said they were paid £80 by a man called ‘Geoff’, who they assumed worked for the council, to move two “abandoned cars”, including Mr Collison’s Mini.

The email from the officer says: “He [the lorry driver] states he acted in good faith but as we now know this is not the case as he had no keys, logbook, paperwork or owner’s permission to collect your vehicle.

“Your vehicle has since been stripped for parts.

“This person is very apologetic and now realises he should not have taken your car without doing some proper checks or having any documentation.

“He is keen to make amends and has offered to pay you for the value of your car.

“I can deal with him in this way if you so wish. This would then be considered a community resolution disposal by the police.”

But, warns the email, if Mr Collison presses charges the driver will be eligible for a caution as he has no previous convictions, and Mr Collison will lose his right to compensation unless he goes through the civil courts.

“It’s not about the money,” said Mr Collison, who says he also has yet to receive an apology from Gwent Police.

“There were two officers there. It’s like the force is trying to hide their mistake. They made no effort to check whether they [the two men] had the right to take the car, even though they had no paperwork or keys.

“Why can’t they just admit that they’ve messed up and apologise?”

A spokesman for Gwent Police said confirmed that Gwent Police community support officers were in the Nantcarn Road area of Cwmcarn responding to a separate matter on August 11.

"During this time, the officers were made aware of a recovery vehicle removing two vehicles from the area," added the spokesman.

"At the time, officers had no evidence of any criminal activity taking place.

"One of vehicles was subsequently reported as stolen, and enquiries are ongoing in relation to this matter, anyone with information should please call 101 quoting log: 314 12/08/2018."

A spokesman from the office of the Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner said: "We are aware that a concern was raised regarding this incident to the Public Response Unit at the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner, who requested that the local Inspector look into the matter and liaise with the individual in relation to any outcome.

"We encourage anyone who is dissatisfied with the service provided to them by Gwent Police to contact the Public Response Unit who aim to resolve any issues of dissatisfaction or concern quickly and effectively (contact). Alternatively, any formal complaints will be dealt with by our Professional Standards Department who can be contacted on 101, by post, or via the Force website."