North Wales Police worker failed to report 'prang' at force headquarters' car park


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A woman with a responsible civilian job with North Wales Police failed to report she had ‘pranged’ another car in the headquarters car park, causing damage totalling more than £2,000.

Paula Ceri Neilson, 51, later said she had the radio on. She heard a bang but wrongly believed that was caused by junk in the car boot moving and did not believe there had been an impact.

A court heard yesterday that the whole thing was captured on the victim’s onboard dash camera, which was activated by movement.

Victim Tristian Glyn Roberts viewed the footage from his Audi A4 and it showed Neilson’s Seat Leon car and registration number.

The following week he found her car parked in another car park at police HQ at St Asaph.

When he had not heard anything from the owner, he put a note on her windscreen with his mobile number on it saying ‘Got you on camera’. That evening he received a text apologising and giving her insurance details.

Neilson, of Bryn Mor Drive in Flint, admitted careless driving and failing to stop at the police headquarters car park on October 21. She was fined £520 with £85 costs and a £32 surcharge with six penalty points on her licence.

When she offered to pay it off at £5 a week, deputy district judge Maurice Champion told her it was “a penalty, not a HP payment” and ordered her to pay it at £20 a week.

Prosecutor Rhian Jackson told Flintshire Magistrates Court that both Neilson and the victim worked at the police headquarters.

That Friday Mr Roberts parked his black Audi A4 in the visitor car park before 8am and went to work.

At about 4pm he returned to the car park and found his vehicle damaged. No note had been left on the vehicle.

He checked with reception but there was no-one available to check for CCTV footage.

Mr Roberts later checked his own onboard dash cam which was movement activated and it showed the other car move forward, then stop as if the driver was looking for any damage, and then drive from the car park. Its make and registration number could be seen.

He reported the matter to the police and the following week asked at reception if anyone had reported an accident.

Someone recognised the car as belonging to Neilson who worked in the same building.

The car was not parked in the same car park that week so he checked another car park and found it there in a damaged condition.

He felt the owner had been trying to hide the car in another car park after what had happened.

Mr Roberts made a formal complaint and provided the footage and when he had not heard anything from Neilson he left a note on her vehicle. That evening he received a text message apologising and providing insurance details. He sent a message back asking for her address but heard nothing more.

The repair bill was £2,090, he had a courtesy car for part of the time it was being repaired but also had to rely on lifts. Her insurance had paid for the repairs.

Interviewed, Neilson said she finished work that day, had her radio on and heard a slight bang. She stopped and turned the radio down, and when she reversed heard a bang again. There was a lot of junk in the boot and believed the bang came from there, that something had fallen over.

She left not realising there had been an impact. It was only the following day that she realised the car was damaged when her grandson told her her car was broken. If she had known there had been an accident then she would have reported it, she said.

Barrister Thomas Sherrington, defending, told the Mold court his client was stressed and emotional about appearing in court for the first time in her life.

She stood by her original explanation that she had not been aware of the impact but accepted a reasonable person should have investigated further when she heard the initial bang.

Once she realised what had happened she immediately provided her insurance details and the matter was properly dealt with.

She had worked for the police for eight years, worked in administration for police staff and held a responsible job. It was out of character for her to commit any offence.

Mr Sherrington said the offences were at the lower end of the scale, the impact had been at very low speed and the damage minimal.

See full story in the Free Press

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