Nottingham man wrongly accused of stealing petrol by Tesco blasts 'ridiculous' error

By Peter Hennessy

A man who was wrongly accused of stealing fuel from a Tesco petrol station says it is "ridiculous" that he was branded a thief.

Paul Patterson, 57, a bus driver from Highbury Vale, went to fill up his car at the Tesco Esso petrol station in Valley Road, Basford, at around 3pm on October 3.

He said paid £22 in total, £20 for his petrol and £2 in the shop.

During his visit, he drove back round into the forecourt, waiting for his wife who was doing the shopping, before the pair drove off.

He later received a letter from Nottinghamshire Police saying he was believed to have filled his car up with £35.22 worth of fuel before driving off without paying.

Mr Patterson told Nottinghamshire Live: "They have got it completely wrong.

Paul Patterson, who was wrongly accused of stealing petrol from the Tesco Esso petrol station in Valley Road, Basford, pictured with the letter he received from Nottinghamshire Police. (Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

"I only found out about it when I got a letter from the force headquarters. If I had paid cash, which I nearly did and often do, and not taken a receipt, I would have had no way of prove I had paid for it."

He added: "I hadn't done anything wrong and I was being accused of being a thief. It's ridiculous."

Tesco has apologised, saying a car had left the Valley Road fuel station without paying - and that a mistake had been made when identifying the vehicle involved.

The driver who didn't pay drove off from the pump in front of Mr Patterson.

But Tesco said that Mr Patterson also pulled his car away from the pump before completing payment.

But Tesco clarified Mr Patterson did not leave the forecourt but that when CCTV footage was initially checked it looked like it was Mr Patterson who hadn't paid.

Mr Patterson explained that he didn't want to wait at the pump while his wife finished the shopping because he would have held other drivers up.

So instead he drove away and back into the forecourt to wait.

"I went back to the garage and showed them that I had paid them on my phone," said Mr Patterson.

"It just so happens that I had proof of payment."

Police Constable Adam Francis, from Nottinghamshire Police, said: “When we receive reports of an alleged crime it is our duty to investigate.

"In line with standard procedure a letter was sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle providing details of the alleged offence and asking who the driver was on this specific date and time.

“Following enquiries it was established no criminal offences were committed and the matter was resolved.”

A Tesco spokesman said: "We’re really sorry this happened. A car left our Valley Road petrol filling station without paying and initially a mistake was made when identifying the vehicle involved.

"Once the error was identified, we immediately apologised to the customer for the mix up.”

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