An airport car park conman who dumped people’s cars in muddy fields when they went on holiday has been jailed for 14 months.
Asad Malik, 38, used fake pictures of car parks hundreds of miles away to trick customers into thinking their vehicles were safe, as he stashed them in fields and on street corners.
Many returned from their holidays to find their cars covered in mud after using Malik’s company London Parking Gatwick.
One man discovered he’d been scammed when he saw his Mini in an ITV News report on Facebook while he was on holiday in Spain.
Keegan Bowes watched the broadcast in Majorca and despite paying for his car to be parked in a secure location, discovered it dumped in a field.
He called his mother, Linda Glover, to ask her to collect the car, and when she did she found the passenger door would not open and the satnav was missing, the court heard.
Ross Newman said his BMW GT had a tow bar style dent in the front bumper after booking meet and greet parking with Malik’s company.
He also noticed his car had racked up 24 miles during his holiday – despite being told the parking location was only 3.8 miles from Gatwick Airport.
‘The company had no entitlement to do anything with that car other than drive it to the location and return it to the customer,’ Prosecutor Richard Heller said.
Trading Standards found hundreds of cars at several locations parked in muddy fields or hidden in bushes and some cars were left unlocked with windows open and keys left in plastic wallets on the windscreen.
One driver found their car had been driven 185 miles while they were away while others received notices for unpaid parking tickets when they returned from holiday.
Jurors at Lewes Crown Court in Brighton heard that some cars were not even returned to their owners at all.
Malik, of Crawley, West Sussex, was found to have made dishonest claims on two websites in a bid to fool people into using London Parking Gatwick and another service called Easy Meet and Greet Gatwick.
He also used a photograph of the car park at Borders General Hospital in Melrose, Scotland, some 400 miles away, to con people into thinking that’s where their cars would be kept.
Terms and conditions and other text was copied from other websites and used on Malik’s sites that were littered with poor spelling and grammar.
Keir Monteith QC, defending, asked Mr Malik: ‘Under the Our Services heading, it says “you can see few services blow”. Did you ever check this?’
Malik replied: ‘Not word by word, no.’
The jury found Malik guilty of three counts of defrauding or misleading customers, in breach of consumer protection laws. Three further counts were left to lie on file.
Malik was jailed for 14 months and disqualified from acting as a company director of any business for the next four years.