Unwary couple's ute used for crime
PETER and Trina West are paying the ultimate price for a “stupid mistake”.
The couple are mixed up in a case of mistaken identity and have no idea how they can prove their innocence.
Their nightmare started on Christmas Eve, when they sold their 1980 white WB ute to a man without the legal paperwork.
They trusted the man, who claimed to be from Emu Park, when he said he would return in a few hours with the correct Department of Transport registration transfer forms and their number plates.
He handed them $800, but never returned.
That night he committed a crime.
As the car was unregistered and the headlights weren’t working, police tried to stop the driver at 11.50pm on December 24.
The driver didn’t stop and police terminated their pursuit quickly.
Hours later, early on Christmas morning, police officers knocked on the back and front doors or Mr and Mrs West’s Lakes Creek Road home.
Legally Mr West still owned the ute, his business’s banner was on it and because police did not view the driver he was a likely suspect.
“We were woken by the kids who were petrified by the police,” Mrs West said this week.
“It was 5.50am and they hadn’t even opened their Christmas present.”
The only thing Mr West has to prove his innocence is a hand-written receipt, with the purchaser’s name and phone number, but not his signature.
And without the correct proof of a sale they can’t cancel the number plates with Queensland Transport.
“It’s a fair enough mistake to make,” Mr West said.
“I haven’t got the best criminal record either and it happened in my ute so I can understand why it looks like me.
“I’ve done stupid things before but there is no way I’d be stupid enough to do this.”
Mr and Mrs West not only have to try and prove their innocence but they fear the purchaser may commit further offences under their name.
“We want him caught and we want our plates,” Mrs West said.
“We made a stupid mistake but we didn’t give him authority to break the law. He could be running amok anywhere now.”
Mrs West also thinks the situation could have been handled better by the police.
“We don’t blame police for investigating but at 5.50am to bash at our front and back door – they could have at least waited until 8am,” Mrs West said.
“We were shocked and it wrecked our Christmas.”
Police Capricorn acting Inspector Graeme Reeves said police were still investigating the incident and the driver of the vehicle was facing a evade police charge.
He said Mr West had not officially been cleared of being involved.
Inspector Reeves said this incident could also serve as an important reminder to anyone buying or selling a vehicle.
He said all people should ensure they complied with requirements for registration and documents are signed by both parties to safeguard them.
If you have any information which may assist police in locating the ute call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.