The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder

News: Garage narrowly avoids £100 fine after snail eats tax disc

Culprit leaves trail of evidence


IN THE list of excuses for not displaying your vehicle tax correctly, “Sorry, officer, but a snail ate it” is perhaps the most bizarre we’ve encountered. But that’s exactly the explanation one Yeovil garage gave the authorities after the creature found its way into a van that was being repaired, and feasted on the paper disc.

When Jon Roles, of West Coker Road-based J H Norman and Sons Ltd, went to move the white Peugeot, which had broken down, he discovered a £100 penalty notice for failing to properly display a tax disc.

Roles’ father Steve, who helps out at the garage occasionally, was brought in for some advice on the slippery situation. To their great credit, rather than sending back the car with a half-eaten disc, the pair decided to take responsibility for the matter.

“As the vehicle was in the care of the garage at the time, we felt the liability rested with us, so we appealed on the customer’s behalf,” he told The Western Gazette. “Jon asked for my advice and I suggested we talk to the police. We explained the situation but they weren’t too keen to see the evidence. They said it was still an offence as the disc was not properly displayed. But we knew for a fact the customer had taxed the vehicle.”

Roles persisted, however, writing a second, more light-hearted letter to the police enclosing photo evidence. It paid off, and Avon and Somerset Police waived the fine.

In a letter to the Roles, a member of the central ticket office wrote: “After consideration of all the facts I have decided to excuse payment of the fixed penalty. Please feel free to interrogate the offender, preferably with a teaspoon of salt. Merry Christmas.”

Paper tax discs are soon to be phased out but that is little help to the hungry mollusc, which reportedly died after his snack, proving the old adage that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes.