Definition of “Ringer” - Disguising a stolen vehicle by changing the vehicle identity
At midday on Sunday 17th July I went to to the Stafford Police Station to check whether the police had finally received a copy of the latest order from the High Court which had been emailed to them by the Judge the previous day. It appeared to have become lost in the “system” so I gave them a copy I’d received from our solicitor.
Accompanied by a constable, I then went to the compound at Hixon to serve the order. The gates to the compound were locked however there was music coming from inside the poly-tunnel so someone was obviously present. The constable called out and an older version of Ben Harp appeared. He claimed Ben Harp wasn’t present and he didn’t know when he (Ben) would return. The constable had obtained a glimpse of a younger man in the compound however he refused to show himself.
It wasn’t possible to see inside the boat from outside the compound but it was obvious they were working on the boat in defiance of the court order.
The constable and I then went to the registered office of Ben Harp Narrowboat Builders Ltd. No one answered the door so I served the order through the letterbox. We then returned to the industrial estate only to see the white van that had been parked outside the compound driving away from us. In front of it was a black Jaguar car. We went to the compound which was locked, and I could see attempts were being made to alter the paintwork on the boat.
The Ben Harp strategy seemed rather obvious.
They were attempting to modify the boat and convert it to a “sailway” which they would sell. At the time I though it would be a lined out sailway. They were also “stalling for time” so the boat could be sufficiently modified to a stage where they thought I wouldn’t recognise it.
It was a desperate strategy which required time to succeed. If we had taken the conventional civil court route they would have probably succeeded. However by going to the Admiralty Court in The Royal Courts of Justice London, our legal team was able to respond much quicker.
Two days later, on Tuesday the 19th July, Ben Harp Narrowboat Builders Ltd sent an email to our solicitor offering to allow me to visit and inspect the boat in the compound at midday on the 20th or 21st (Wednesday or Thursday). They obviously thought they had got the boat to a state where I wouldn’t recognise it and they knew they were running out of time. We quickly replied accepting the offer for Thursday and informing Ben Harp I would be accompanied by Tim Tyler of Tyler-Wilson, the shell builders.
Shortly thereafter another email was received from Ben Harp Narrowboat Builders withdrawing the offer to inspect the boat and advising they intended to tell the High Court Judge they required a two week extension to his order so they could prepare their defence against his first court order giving our surveyor access by the 21st and us the boat by the 28th.
It appear obvious they realised Tim Tyler would recognise the boat as ours and they were stalling for time whilst they attempted to find a buyer for their “new” sailaway. We also found out Ben Harp had placed an urgent order for a Beta Marine 43 engine for a sailaway he was completing. The clock was ticking!
Our solicitors immediately wrote back to Ben Harp Narrowboats advising there was no requirement to request an extension as we already had a court appointment in two days (Thursday 21st). All they had to do was to come to London and tell the Judge their side of the story
Well they didn’t bother to attend the court hearing and instead submit a request for a two week extension to the court. By then their plan was so blatantly obvious the court ignored their request and gave us an order containing everything we had requested.
THEY HAD RUN OUT OF TIME……….. THE GAME WAS UP!
next……. Malicious Damage