Notorious wheel-clamper Peter Del Grosso is facing jail after being convicted of a race-hate crime.
Del Grosso, of clamping firm Vehicle Management Limited, launched a tirade of racist abuse at a man who had gone to help a friend recover her clamped car. Del Grosso is also set to have his wheel-clamper's licence revoked after Humberside Police made an application to the Security Industry Authority.
A jury took less than 90 minutes to convict Del Grosso of racially aggravated assault after hearing how he also threatened to rape the man's partner.
Detective Constable Paul Gooder, of Hull's public protection unit, said: "Hate crime is something we take very seriously – there is no place for racist abuse. We have a conviction rate of more than 60 per cent and are determined to continue in not tolerating abuse of this nature. We've applied for Del Grosso's licence to be revoked so, hopefully, he will not be able to clamp another person in the city again."
Del Grosso hit the headlines in 2009 after readers inundated the Mail with complaints about Sector Security Ltd clamping at dozens of sites across Hull and the East Riding. Earlier this year, the Mail discovered Del Grosso – by then working with Vehicle Management Ltd – was charging motorists more to release clamped cars ahead of the clamping ban, expected by the end of the year. Grimsby Crown Court heard Del Grosso abused Mohammed Tarhan when he and his partner accompanied her sister to a back-street compound in Hull city centre on Christmas Eve in 2009.
Del Grosso, 48, threatened to rape Mr Tarhan's partner before demanding to see his passport.
Holly Barwell had her car clamped on December 23. She contacted Del Grosso and he told her to meet him in the street to hand over £310 to get her Vauxhall Corsa released. Mr Tarhan and his girlfriend, Emily Barwell, went with Holly and they were taken to the compound at R and M Motors in Dock Street. While Mr Tarhan, who is Turkish, was waiting, Del Grosso began shouting at him.
He called him a "foreigner" and said: "Where's your visa? I want to see your passport."
Mr Tarhan called police and blocked the entrance to the compound to stop Del Grosso fleeing. However, he was forced to move when Del Grosso summoned a forklift truck and threatened to crush his car.
Mr Tarhan said: "I began driving my car out of the yard and he looked at me and was saying something. I wound down my window and asked him what he was saying and he started swearing at me. He told me that he knew where we lived and he would come and give my family and kids a Christmas present. He said, 'I'm going to **** your wife.' He repeated it and I decided to call the police. He said, 'Foreigner, go back to your country.' I was just very angry."
Two months after the incident, Del Grosso tried to intimidate Emily Barwell by driving his car at her in the city centre. He was also believed to have been asking around takeaways in the city to find Mr Tarhan.
The victims were allowed to give evidence behind screens in the court during the five-day trial.
After the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict, the case was adjourned for sentence until November 17. Judge Robert Moore told Del Grosso the pre-sentence report would have to contain "exceptional" circumstances for him to avoid a custodial sentence.
Del Grosso, who has no previous convictions apart from a technical issue relating to a gun licence, was released on bail until sentencing next month.
A spokeswoman for the Security Industry Authority said: "We are here to uphold the public safety and we issue licences to ensure only fit and proper people work in the industry. We can't have people who are a risk to the public operating."
The spokeswoman told the Mail once an application was made by the police, Del Grosso's licence would be suspended immediately pending a full review. She also said a conviction of racially aggravated assault would lead to the license being pulled.
People whose licences are revoked cannot reapply until after five years, by which point, wheel-clamping will have been outlawed.
This is Hull and East Riding