Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

We shall not be moved

A Distraught Ulster couple who have two disabled children last night slammed the way they were treated after their car was clamped outside their home.

Darren and Charlene Clarke, from Princes Crescent in Newtownabbey, had a stand-off with the clampers - and at one stage Charlene jumped into the car and refused to get out in order to stop the new family car being towed away.

The couple had bought a Renault Megane on Tuesday and tried to tax the vehicle that afternoon - but were turned away from the tax office as they did not have a cover note confirming that they were insured with retail giant Tesco.

Charlene left her seven-year old son Jake - who suffers from severe ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome - to school yesterday morning.

Around two hours later, the couple were preparing to visit their 16-month old daughter Dakota in hospital when they discovered the front wheel of their car had been clamped.

Little Dakota suffers from a rare condition called Septo-Optic Dysplasia - which is the same illness glamour model Jordan's son Harvey has.

As with Harvey, Dakota is blind and has to undergo hormone replacement therapy.

The youngster has been in and out of hospital since birth and has spent the last four weeks in Antrim Area Hospital.

Darren said: "I rang the DVLNI in Coleraine and explained the situation and was told I'd have to pay backdated tax for the few days the car wasn't taxed."

Charlene also spoke with someone from the DVLNI. "I told her we needed to use the car to go up and see Dakota. We always make sure a family member is with her at all times in the hospital and we have a routine going which suits her and Jake. I was at my wits' end and out of sheer frustration I told her nobody was going to keep me from going to the hospital to see my sick baby.

"I lost my temper and told her I was going to take the clamp off.

"About 20 minutes later, a lorry arrived outside our house. A man got out and told me he was going to tow the car away so I got in the car and refused to get out."

The PSNI was then called to the scene. The Megane's details were run through the motor insurance database which revealed the vehicle was fully insured.

Sergeant Caroline Chambers intervened and after discussing the situation with the motor clamping unit in Coleraine, she took Mr Clarke back to the tax office in Belfast.

After returning home with car tax, the clamp was removed - at a cost of £80.

A DoE spokeswoman said: " The unlicensed vehicle was detected on Friday morning on a public road and clamped. It has now been licensed and unclamped."

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