Episode 12 The Sheriffs Are Coming


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Episode 12

A pub landlord paid for wind turbines, which didn't work, can Sheriffs Marc and Tony get him his money back? Lawrence and Kev go in search of a horse.


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Transcript


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-Meet the sheriffs.

-Let's introduce ourselves.

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I'm a High Court enforcement officer. We're here to execute a writ.

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They're the men whose job it is to get you your money back.

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It's an arrestable offence to stop me.

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-If you've been ripped off and don't know where to turn...

-I'm not waiting any more.

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I'm ordered to seize goods to clear this debt, which means clearing this place out.

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..if you've been to court, but still not been paid what you're owed...

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Why don't you tell me who you are? This is an absolute crock!

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..the High Court enforcement officers are charged by law

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-to recover what a court says is rightfully yours.

-I've seized your car, sir.

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-Let us through the door or we'll go through the window.

-Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!

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-It's time to call the sheriffs.

-We've just collected 42 grand.

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Coming up...

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Pub landlord Graham Short paid £10,000 for wind turbines

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which didn't work.

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They weren't generating enough electricity to power a light bulb.

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Can the sheriffs get him the money he's owed?

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Anastasia Gill was promised £1,000

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for her half share of a breeding horse

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but hasn't received a penny.

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I think he just wanted to ignore me.

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"This silly little blonde will just forget about me."

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That wasn't going to happen.

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The sheriffs saddle up to get her her money back.

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We're here today to seize goods to the value of £1,882 and 63 pence.

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And sheriff Pete's got bad news for an aircraft company

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that hasn't paid up its debts.

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You won't be able to leave. I've just seized this aircraft.

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For regular sheriff partners Marc Newton and Tony Smith,

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it's a very early start this morning

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and Tony, for one, is feeling the lack of sleep.

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-I'll just put the heating on.

-It's not even cold!

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I'm a little bit chilly. I'm getting old, mate.

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I'm getting old. I've had no tea or coffee.

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Stop moaning! You could've come to my room for a cup of tea.

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The sun's not up, but the sheriffs are already on their way to their first job of the day.

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And it's a big one.

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We're off to a residential address in Bideford, Devon.

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We're looking for the amount of £13,500

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from a company called Smart Power Products Ltd.

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I believe that this is the director's address.

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Hopefully, he's got some company assets there

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or he runs the company from there.

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The person they're trying to help is pub landlord Graham Short,

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from Dartmoor in Devon.

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When he paid to install wind turbines on his pub roof,

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Graham thought he would be doing his bit to save the planet, while also saving money.

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Instead, it's cost him thousands,

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left him forced to go to court and relying on the sheriffs for help.

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He's put the nail in the coffin for renewable energy, as far as I'm concerned.

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I am very, very annoyed.

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Well, furious.

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You get to a point when you think, "Why did I even bother to do this?"

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Graham's troubles started when he decided that, given his pub's remote location,

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it needed a back-up power supply.

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Being on the edge of Dartmoor, having notorious power cuts in the winter,

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we needed a back-up system which would keep our gas operation system going

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because as soon as the electric cuts out, the gas cuts out.

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His search for a new energy system

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brought him to self-styled wind turbine expert

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Rupert Sweet-Escott,

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who claimed to have the perfect solution,

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one which was not only green, but would also, he said,

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considerably reduce the running costs of the pub.

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We were advised by Mr Escott of Smart Power Products

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that we could save up to 25-30%

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of our electricity bills across the year.

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In this economic climate, you've got to save every penny you can.

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If the wind is blowing and producing free energy

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for me to use to stay open me, that's brilliant.

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Impressed by the figures and by the design of the wind turbine chimneys,

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Graham was eager to go ahead.

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He paid Mr Sweet-Escott £5,000 up front

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to get on with installing them on his pub roof.

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There'll be two towers, looking like chimneys,

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on top of the existing roof.

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He was delighted to have solved his electricity problems

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in such a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way.

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He seemed a very knowledgeable person,

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the sort of person that knew what they were talking about

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and could supply you with a product that was going to work.

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I thought I was going to be happy, it's going to be up and running, all singing and dancing and lovely.

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But as months passed, Mr Sweet-Escott failed to start the job,

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blaming a series of problems for the delays.

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Finally, after a whole year, work commenced,

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with Mr Sweet-Escott installing his revolutionary turbines himself,

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as shown in these photos.

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Graham paid another £5,000 for the hardware.

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But when the installation was complete,

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the long-awaited wind turbines were far from the mean, green

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electricity-generating machines he'd been promised.

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Basically, they never worked from day one.

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They'd vibrate and the wind would catch between the blades.

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It was similar to a Chinook helicopter going overhead.

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There'd be a strong "thud-thud-thud-thud-thud-thud..."

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That would be constant all day long. That's all you would hear.

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The main issue was the fact that they just didn't work.

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We had them tested out

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and they weren't even generating enough electricity to power a light bulb.

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Rupert Sweet-Escott tried several times, without success,

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to fix the problems with the turbines.

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Becoming convinced his explanations for why they weren't working were nothing more than hot air,

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Graham had reached the end of his tether.

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He turned up, he'd do something, it still wasn't right.

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He'd turn up and do something else, it still wasn't right.

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So then I contacted him by email

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and said, "Look, enough is enough. I want these things taken down."

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After talking to the Citizens Advice Bureau,

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Graham rejected the turbines as being unfit for purpose

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and demanded a full refund.

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Wind turbines are supposed to generate electricity.

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They didn't generate electricity.

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Not fit for purpose - you get your money back.

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Cut and dried.

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He did acknowledge the fact that they didn't work

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and the fact he did owe me my money back

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and was intending on paying my money back.

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Graham wanted his ill-fated foray into renewal energy

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to come to an end.

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Mr Sweet-Escott agreed to take back his noisy turbines

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and return Graham's full payment.

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However, with the turbines gone, Graham's still waiting for his money.

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All I have left is an empty roof.

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My bit towards renewable energy and a greener environment is gone,

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and I'm £11,000 worse off for it.

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Graham's only option left was to take him to court.

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When the case was heard, Mr Sweet-Escott failed to contest it

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and the court ordered he pay Graham £11,280.

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But since then, he's ignored the court's judgment and still failed to pay up.

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Now it's down to Marc and Tony to pay him a visit

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and ask for the money in person.

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It's still dark when the sheriffs arrive at Mr Sweet-Escott's house.

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They go and knock on the door.

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GATE CREAKS

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That's quite loud.

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-DOG BARKS

-There you go. That's their dog.

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Marc's knocking has woken up a dog, but no-one's answering the door.

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And he's noticed something else

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that suggests they may have had a wasted journey.

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-I'm hoping they're not away. There's mail piled up.

-Oh, is there?

-Yes.

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-They might have someone come in and let the dog out.

-They could do.

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There's a pile of mail on the side that big.

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There's no movement at all.

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I really don't think there's anybody in.

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With no signs of life from inside,

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their only play is to list goods which may belong to Rupert Sweet-Escott

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and leave him a notice of seizure.

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They start with the vehicles parked back down the hill.

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Marc generously nominates Tony for this.

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-Do you want to run down the stairs and...?

-Run back up?

-Yes!

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Go on. You need the training. It's good for you.

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Then suddenly, Marc hears something.

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Oh, here, Tone. There's someone here now.

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Hello. I'm after...

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..erm, Smart Power Products Ltd.

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It's about an outstanding High Court writ.

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It's the man they need to speak to - Rupert Sweet-Escott.

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He invites the sheriffs in

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but tells our camera to stay outside.

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Marc gets straight to the point.

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With additional interest, court and sheriffs' fees, the bill has gone up.

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It's about a High Court writ that's been issued for £13,500...

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We have to start removing stuff if you can't...

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That's what we're here to do. How much could you do?

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Mr Sweet-Escott offers to pay them £500.

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With over £13,000 outstanding,

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this isn't going to work for Marc and Tony.

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You're going to need to pay at least half.

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We really should collect the full amount.

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We have to execute the writ.

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Because of your circumstances, well, we need to take half.

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We understand it's quite a large amount to pay up in one lump.

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Mr Sweet-Escott maintains he can't afford to pay.

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We need to get at least half of this or we'll have to remove goods.

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Have you got anyone that could help you out?

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With the sheriffs keeping the pressure up,

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Mr Sweet-Escott significantly ups his offer -

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£3,000.

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I'll do three grand now. Do you want to do it on the debit card?

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We have to take an inventory of your goods.

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-We won't take nothing, we just have to take an inventory.

-We have to take an inventory

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to secure the debt.

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I just need you to sign there to say we've listed them.

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"Goods still in property, not removed."

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Marc's tough stance has had the desired effect.

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With night turning to day, they're leaving with money in the bank

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and an offer from Sweet-Escott to settle the rest of the debt in monthly instalments.

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We've got a quarter of the debt.

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He's not happy, but, you know,

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unfortunately, we've got the writ and he needs to pay that.

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I wouldn't be surprised if, in the pile, there's the original court paperwork

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that he's just not opened and done anything with.

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If the defendant doesn't keep making payments as promised,

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the sheriffs will be back to remove goods to cover the debt.

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It's been a cracking morning's work for the sheriffs.

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More importantly, it means Graham Short will finally get at least some of his money,

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even if he'll have to look elsewhere for an alternative means of back-up power.

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I'm glad the sheriffs have managed to see Mr Sweet-Escott

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and retrieve some of my money, which is a start, I suppose.

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I feel confident that I will get all the money eventually,

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now the ball is rolling and the sheriffs are involved in the matter.

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We will keep on top of it until we do get it all.

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And since the sheriffs visited Mr Sweet-Escott's home,

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he asked to put his side of the story,

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saying the technology was experimental,

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and early on he had offered a refund.

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I accept the full blame and, you know, sorry.

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Hands up, I'm sorry, Graham.

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He did refuse a refund.

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I said, "This product is not ready at this time,"

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which, in my book, basically means that I can take my time, I can get it right.

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This is the name of the game with the development of new products. It takes time.

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Mr Sweet-Escott also explained

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why he hadn't got the court paperwork earlier.

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Nowadays, nobody reads the post. Everyone reads their inbox.

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Er, the post is very 19th...

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..you know, 20th century, isn't it?

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Isn't it?

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-Ready for action.

-Let's go, then.

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Sheriffs enforce over 70,000 High Court writs every year,

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and a sheriff never knows what he's going to encounter until he gets there.

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Hello?

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We're going round in circles. You do what you've got to do and I'll do what I've got to do.

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Some are only too happy to pay up, whatever the size of the debt.

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-We'll do it.

-Yes?

-Yes.

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-Okey-dokey.

-OK.

-We'll leave you in peace.

-Lovely.

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Others are not so happy.

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You're not going to pay a penny? OK. We'll start removing goods, then.

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Only sheriffs can execute High Court writs.

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It gives them more powers than county court bailiffs

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to enter properties and seize assets.

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It is a last resort to force entry. Hopefully, they'll see sense and open the door.

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The only way you can prevent further action is to pay in full.

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If no payment is forthcoming, sheriffs can seize goods to auction, to pay off debts.

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We'll have the silver Mazda and the BMW, and we've got the keys to move the blue Micra.

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Removing goods is rare, happening in less than 1% of cases.

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Hitting the open road today is the Northern Sheriff Brigade

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of Pete Spencer, Dave Crabtree and Dave Lockwood,

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en route to a rather unusual assignment.

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We're on our way to Blackpool Airport,

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a company called Aircraft Grouping Ltd.

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They're visiting on behalf of Steve Halliwell,

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who paid private plane syndicate firm Aircraft Grouping Limited £6,000

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for a share in ownership of one of their aircraft.

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When the company was unable to fix a fault in the plane,

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Steve told them he was leaving the syndicate and demanded a refund.

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After this request was ignored,

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he took them to court to recover his money.

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The company failed to contest the case

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and a judge ordered them to pay him £6,313.

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But since then, Steve hasn't received a penny.

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Now Pete and his team are ready to deliver Aircraft Grouping a runway ultimatum -

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pay up or the company's aircraft will be grounded, seized

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and, if necessary, removed to cover the debt.

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I've got a list of about eight planes that are meant to be situated at Blackpool Airport.

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If we have to, we'll clamp the plane, remove the relevant information that we need.

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The plane than becomes scrap value.

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We'll notify the airport authorities that we've seized the plane

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and request that they don't accept any flight plans for the aircraft.

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Pete's no stranger to airport seizures.

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That's one of the planes there.

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When you're planning to seize assets worth hundreds of thousands of pounds,

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you need to have your bases covered.

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There's the notices, as well, for the pilots

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that will go to the cockpits of the planes.

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I've been to an airport before. I know the procedures.

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It's pretty straightforward really.

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Airports might be old hat to Pete,

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but Dave Crabtree's excited about this visit...

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Whee!

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..and eager to get started.

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The sign that says Blackpool Airport gives it away, doesn't it?!

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Arriving at the airport,

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Pete goes to show security the live High Court writ

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and explains what they've come to do.

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At this point, we're told to stop filming

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and are refused permission to follow him airside.

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And Dave Crabtree's forgotten something rather important

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that means he can't go in either - a photo driving licence.

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Unfortunately, I haven't brought the correct ID,

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so I can't, if they need to go airside,

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I can't get on a plane.

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Bit disappointing, really, but there you go.

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We continue filming from outside the airport fence,

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as Pete and Dave Lockwood appear on the runway.

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All Dave Crabtree can do is watch,

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as they prepare for some high-level sheriffing.

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It's very frustrating, yes!

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Especially when they're in there and I'm out here and I can't...

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..I can't do nothing.

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With one of Aircraft Grouping's planes about to take off, Pete's arrived in the nick of time.

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He's got some bad news for the pilot.

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You're not going to be able to leave at the moment.

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I've just seized this aircraft. I need the...

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The registration documents can stay with the aircraft, but there's the insurance

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and there's the certificate of... Yes.

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That's been seized on the paperwork, so we...

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There's two guys wanting to go for a lesson

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and Pete has approached them and said they can't take a plane

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because it's been seized till we sort the matter out.

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Let me in!

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The seizure and grounding of the aircraft certainly shows Pete means business.

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At this point, a man emerges from a nearby Portakabin

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and introduces himself as the duty manager of Aircraft Grouping Ltd.

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I've got a High Court writ.

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It's from the 19th of the ninth, for that total.

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They moved it to High Court, which is where I'm attending from.

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They're looking for £8,054 and 80 pence.

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That's what I've come to collect. How would you like to pay?

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The man invites the sheriffs in to discuss the situation.

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Pete wastes no time in explaining what he's done

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and what it means for the company's planes.

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As you know, as soon as I remove the worthiness certificate, they become scrap value.

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With well over £100,000 of aircraft now seized,

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it's perfect leverage for Pete and a big problem for the manager.

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He asks to make a phone call to let his boss, the owner,

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know his prized fleet of planes are now the property of court.

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20 minutes later, Pete and Dave Lockwood emerge,

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having secured a promise from the owner to pay the full amount owed to Steve Halliwell.

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But until the debt is settled,

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three of Aircraft Grouping's planes will remain seized and grounded,

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with the crucial aircraft documents coming with them as insurance.

0:19:310:19:35

It should be PLANE sailing from here onwards for Pete.

0:19:350:19:38

We've left the registration documents in the planes

0:19:380:19:41

and removed the maintenance documents, insurance documents

0:19:410:19:45

and the worthiness-of-flying documents, as well, which we'll send down to the office.

0:19:450:19:50

I think, ideally, what he's saying is,

0:19:500:19:52

it'll be paid within the next five days in full,

0:19:520:19:55

so that's what he's looking to do.

0:19:550:19:58

It's been a first-class piece of work from Pete.

0:19:580:20:01

With the aircraft paperwork now in his hands,

0:20:010:20:04

he'll either get Steve Halliwell his money or he'll get the planes themselves,

0:20:040:20:08

with a view to selling them to pay off the debt, if necessary.

0:20:080:20:12

Chocks away.

0:20:120:20:15

It's early in the morning

0:20:210:20:23

and Lawrence Grix and Kev McNally are heading out into the sticks

0:20:230:20:28

for their first job of the day.

0:20:280:20:30

Quarter to seven in the morning, erm,

0:20:310:20:34

and we're just coming into a little place called Bramley, in Hampshire.

0:20:340:20:38

It's a residential address, quite a nice one by all accounts,

0:20:380:20:42

and we're looking for a David Johnson.

0:20:420:20:44

We've got Mr David Johnson trading as Premier Youngstock.

0:20:440:20:48

He's some kind of horse dealer, I believe.

0:20:480:20:51

The latest person the sheriffs are trying to help

0:20:510:20:54

is aspiring horse-breeder Anastasia Gill from Surrey.

0:20:540:20:59

Anastasia trained as a lawyer

0:21:000:21:02

before deciding to follow her dream of turning a life-long hobby into a career.

0:21:020:21:07

I've loved horses all my life and have ridden since I was a child.

0:21:070:21:11

I don't sell every horse I create because I fall in love with them.

0:21:110:21:15

You sometimes have to separate the passion and the job.

0:21:150:21:20

It's hard.

0:21:200:21:22

When Anastasia purchased a horse jointly with a fellow breeder called David Johnson,

0:21:230:21:28

it was meant to be the first stage of a new and lucrative partnership.

0:21:280:21:33

But instead, she was left out of pocket

0:21:330:21:35

and relying on the sheriffs for justice.

0:21:350:21:39

Anastasia got to know David Johnson when she kept a number of her own horses at his stables.

0:21:460:21:52

This working relationship grew over several years,

0:21:520:21:54

to the point where they decided to buy a horse together and share its breeding rights.

0:21:540:22:00

Today, she's preparing to ride a friend's horse at a local stables.

0:22:000:22:04

But two years ago, Anastasia and Mr Johnson's search for a breeding horse

0:22:040:22:08

took them to a stable in Germany,

0:22:080:22:10

where they saw a mare that was perfect.

0:22:100:22:13

We found Ruby and decided that she was the one,

0:22:130:22:16

had a handshake and, er,

0:22:160:22:18

about two, three weeks later, she's in the UK

0:22:180:22:21

and we have ourselves a project.

0:22:210:22:25

Together, they paid 6,000 euros - approximately £5,000 -

0:22:250:22:29

for a horse called Ruby,

0:22:290:22:31

and agreed they would have alternating breeding years with her.

0:22:310:22:35

It was a simple arrangement

0:22:350:22:37

which Anastasia hoped would prove very successful in the years ahead.

0:22:370:22:42

And everything was going swimmingly

0:22:420:22:43

until a minor dispute about one of the other horses David Johnson was keeping for her

0:22:430:22:48

caused a rift between the two of them.

0:22:480:22:51

It was to do with money.

0:22:510:22:53

It was a very minor situation.

0:22:530:22:56

Erm... It should've been a disagreement,

0:22:560:22:58

which turned into a full-blown argument.

0:22:580:23:00

I'd never seen this side of him before.

0:23:000:23:04

I thought, "This is Jekyll and Hyde. I don't know this man. I can't trust this man."

0:23:040:23:09

With relations between them having broken down,

0:23:090:23:12

Anastasia decided their business partnership would have to come to an end.

0:23:120:23:17

I removed all my horses from his property within a fortnight.

0:23:170:23:21

However, I couldn't remove Ruby because it was his breeding year

0:23:210:23:25

and I didn't have the right to.

0:23:250:23:27

So she became a problem

0:23:270:23:30

and I decided I didn't want to be part of this

0:23:300:23:33

and I wanted the mare sold.

0:23:330:23:35

Anastasia visited David Johnson to resolve the situation.

0:23:370:23:41

He told her he wanted to keep Ruby and would buy her out of the joint ownership.

0:23:410:23:46

He agreed to pay £1,000 for her share of the horse.

0:23:460:23:49

I wasn't going to leave without having him sign a contract,

0:23:490:23:53

so that was written up.

0:23:530:23:55

Luckily, there and then, signed,

0:23:550:23:57

and I left feeling quite confident that we were both going to be happy.

0:23:570:24:02

But as months passed, no payment came through.

0:24:030:24:07

After her numerous phone calls and emails to Mr Johnson went ignored,

0:24:070:24:11

Anastasia decided to go back to his yard and confront him.

0:24:110:24:16

However, David Johnson proved in a rather forgetful mood.

0:24:160:24:21

He pretended to not know me and to not have ever seen me before

0:24:210:24:25

and told me I was trespassing on the land and that he would call the police.

0:24:250:24:29

Anastasia had no way of even finding out if Mr Johnson still had the horse,

0:24:290:24:35

which, since he'd not paid her, she still jointly owned.

0:24:350:24:39

I don't know if he's even still got her,

0:24:390:24:41

he could have sold her for all I know

0:24:410:24:43

because I am not allowed to go and check up on her.

0:24:430:24:47

Anastasia realised taking legal action against Mr Johnson

0:24:480:24:52

was the only avenue she had left.

0:24:520:24:55

It ends up winding you up and you get stressed and angry about things.

0:24:550:25:00

I think he just wanted to ignore me, you know,

0:25:000:25:03

"Silly little blonde will just forget about me or give up on me."

0:25:030:25:08

That wasn't going to happen.

0:25:080:25:09

When the case went to court, Mr Johnson failed to contest it

0:25:090:25:14

and a judge ordered him to pay Anastasia £1,150.

0:25:140:25:19

But since then, he's ignored the court's ruling

0:25:190:25:22

and failed to settle the debt.

0:25:220:25:24

Anastasia's last hope of seeing her money

0:25:270:25:30

now rests with the well-honed persuasive powers

0:25:300:25:32

of Lawrence and Kev.

0:25:320:25:35

It's a residential address.

0:25:350:25:36

Hopefully, at this time of day, we'll catch him in

0:25:360:25:39

and maybe he'll have a car, or something like that, that we can seize to force payment.

0:25:390:25:45

Lawrence is ready to use all his negotiation skills

0:25:450:25:48

to convince Mr Johnson he needs to pay up.

0:25:480:25:52

I reckon it's that one on the end. That looks more like a...

0:25:520:25:56

-No, it's this geezer, isn't it?

-It might be.

0:25:560:25:59

Locating the house, they park up and head in.

0:25:590:26:02

And early signs are looking good.

0:26:020:26:04

The windows are all open.

0:26:040:26:06

-That light did just come on, didn't it? Or was it on already?

-I couldn't see from where I was.

0:26:070:26:12

They're in. There's a light come on.

0:26:180:26:20

The TV's on standby and the windows are all open.

0:26:200:26:24

Lawrence and Kev can see activity inside,

0:26:240:26:27

but no-one seems to want to talk to them.

0:26:270:26:30

Nobody up at the windows, no?

0:26:300:26:33

No, nothing as yet.

0:26:330:26:36

-Oh, here we go.

-There's movement.

0:26:370:26:39

Somebody's just gone into the kitchen.

0:26:390:26:42

And a dog.

0:26:420:26:44

Oh, no. It's your turn to get bitten.

0:26:440:26:47

There's someone here.

0:26:470:26:50

Someone comes to the door,

0:26:500:26:52

but with our cameras in full view they're not keen on showing their faces.

0:26:520:26:56

Lawrence has the unusual task of conducting a conversation across a closed front door.

0:26:560:27:02

Hello. I'm looking for a David Johnson.

0:27:020:27:06

I'll show you some ID, sir.

0:27:060:27:08

I'm an enforcement officer. I'm here to execute a High Court writ.

0:27:080:27:12

We're here today to...

0:27:120:27:15

to seize goods to the value of £1,882.63

0:27:150:27:21

or collect payment in full.

0:27:210:27:23

To Lawrence's surprise, Mr Johnson suggests Lawrence takes the horse to settle the debt.

0:27:230:27:29

Unfortunately, sir, it's gone beyond that.

0:27:290:27:31

We're here to seize your goods, not hers.

0:27:310:27:33

If she's got a horse with you,

0:27:330:27:36

we can't take that because it belongs to her.

0:27:360:27:39

We're here to seize your goods or collect payment in full.

0:27:390:27:42

We've got your car blocked in.

0:27:420:27:44

We're looking to take the car and trailer at this point in time if we don't collect payment in full.

0:27:440:27:49

Seeming to want to show his lack of concern at the sheriffs' presence,

0:27:490:27:53

Mr Johnson then suggests

0:27:530:27:55

Lawrence and Kev help themselves to his car.

0:27:550:27:59

But as enticing an offer as this is, Lawrence would rather get hard cash

0:27:590:28:04

than go through the hassle of removing an old Volvo.

0:28:040:28:07

What I can say to you is, the money's held for 14 days. It's not dispersed.

0:28:070:28:12

So if there's something that you or your solicitor has got to do, with regards to the claimant...

0:28:120:28:18

Finally, ready to discuss the issue face-to-face,

0:28:180:28:21

Mr Johnson invites Lawrence and Kev inside,

0:28:210:28:23

although the invite doesn't extend to our camera.

0:28:230:28:28

Once inside, Mr Johnson comes out with something totally unexpected.

0:28:280:28:33

He admits he should've paid the debt earlier

0:28:330:28:36

and says he's more than happy to settle it here and now - no fuss, no bother.

0:28:360:28:41

Lawrence is only too pleased to accept.

0:28:420:28:45

Kev jumps at the chance of fetching the card machine.

0:28:470:28:51

A quick card transaction later, a photo for the files,

0:28:510:28:54

and it's job done for Lawrence and Kev -

0:28:540:28:58

a paid-in-full in less than 12 minutes.

0:28:580:29:01

-See how easy this job is!

-HE LAUGHS

0:29:010:29:04

Love those starts to the morning. Bosh! Get in!

0:29:040:29:07

Lawrence is understandably delighted.

0:29:070:29:11

Literally, we just went in there and, er,

0:29:110:29:15

he pulled out a card and paid us.

0:29:150:29:17

Absolutely simple as.

0:29:170:29:19

Very, very rarely do you get them as simple as that.

0:29:190:29:24

Whatever Mr Johnson's reasons, it's a great start to the day for Lawrence

0:29:240:29:29

and an even better one for Anastasia,

0:29:290:29:31

who finally has the money she was rightfully owed.

0:29:310:29:34

Her nightmare with the mare is over.

0:29:340:29:37

The news is that all my money - plus interest - has been recovered, which is fantastic news.

0:29:370:29:43

It was more about the principle than the money, if I'm honest with you.

0:29:430:29:47

I wanted to know that the horse was OK

0:29:470:29:49

and I have since found a person who knows both of us

0:29:490:29:54

to report to me that the mare is fine.

0:29:540:29:56

Everyone should know that the sheriffs exist and do this job fantastically well.

0:29:560:30:01

David Johnson told us that...

0:30:020:30:03

However, he said that when subsequently scanned by a vet,

0:30:110:30:15

Ruby hadn't been in foal at that time,

0:30:150:30:18

hence, he hadn't paid Anastasia.

0:30:180:30:20

..but reiterated he paid in full

0:30:250:30:28

when the sheriffs visited.

0:30:280:30:30

The issue of who owns what

0:30:370:30:39

-is one that sheriffs have to deal with all the time.

-It's not in his name.

0:30:390:30:43

It doesn't matter who they're registered to, it's who owns them. Why are they on your forecourt, then?

0:30:430:30:48

They can only seize what belongs to whoever's named on the writ.

0:30:480:30:52

Unsurprisingly, debtors aren't the most co-operative people

0:30:520:30:56

when it comes to helping establish ownership.

0:30:560:30:58

-They're still assets, belonging to the company.

-There isn't any assets.

0:30:580:31:02

With that in mind, sheriffs Darryl Oreton and Mark Povey are in the Midlands,

0:31:030:31:09

on their way to their latest enforcement.

0:31:090:31:12

This is an employment tribunal.

0:31:120:31:16

A gentleman's been unfairly dismissed

0:31:160:31:19

and he's taken the company to court.

0:31:190:31:22

Darryl's going in with a positive approach,

0:31:220:31:25

but this is a far-from-straightforward case, with no guarantee of success.

0:31:250:31:29

The company in question,

0:31:290:31:31

Level 1 Lincoln Ltd, is a security company,

0:31:310:31:35

providing doormen and security staff to venues and events.

0:31:350:31:40

Given the world they operate in, Darryl doesn't know what to expect when he gets there.

0:31:400:31:44

It may just be minimal, minimal assets of no value.

0:31:440:31:48

Until we get there, we're not going to realise that.

0:31:480:31:52

Keen to find out exactly what is there,

0:31:590:32:02

they park up and head in.

0:32:020:32:05

DOOR BUZZES

0:32:050:32:07

That's for your own security.

0:32:070:32:10

-Hello there.

-Hello.

0:32:150:32:17

-Enforcement officers.

-OK.

-Is it you I need to speak to?

0:32:180:32:22

-What's it about?

-I've got a High Court writ to execute against Level 1

0:32:220:32:26

on behalf of Mr A Cubbitson.

0:32:260:32:29

-Mr who, sorry?

-It's an employment tribunal case.

-Oh, right.

0:32:290:32:33

We've got a High Court writ, as I said.

0:32:330:32:35

I'm here to collect £8,900.

0:32:350:32:39

At this point, we're asked to stop filming.

0:32:390:32:42

The office staff, in the meantime, get in touch with boss Darren Maul,

0:32:450:32:49

who agrees to come down.

0:32:490:32:51

15 minutes later Mr Maul arrives in his BMW,

0:32:540:32:58

ready for a one-on-one face-off with Darryl.

0:32:580:33:02

All right there, sir?

0:33:030:33:05

The Clash of the Titans continues behind closed doors.

0:33:060:33:11

There's my ID. Enforcement officer.

0:33:140:33:17

We've got a High Court writ against yourselves, Level 1,

0:33:170:33:20

on behalf of Mr A Cubbitson.

0:33:200:33:22

It's an employment tribunal, isn't it?

0:33:220:33:25

They've sent us out for full payment or to seize goods to the value of.

0:33:250:33:29

Mr Maul says that the office came furnished

0:33:290:33:31

and everything inside belongs not to the company but to the landlord,

0:33:310:33:36

which happens to be him.

0:33:360:33:39

-Darryl asks for proof.

-I can't just take your word for that.

0:33:390:33:43

If you get me a receipt for that table and those six chairs, obviously we'd leave it.

0:33:430:33:47

Legally, it will go

0:33:470:33:49

unless you have got proof there to show us.

0:33:490:33:53

You've got an hour to provide it.

0:33:530:33:55

If it's not provided, third-party contractors are on standby for removal.

0:33:550:33:59

Moments later, Darryl comes outside to fill us in.

0:34:020:34:06

He's refusing to pay,

0:34:060:34:08

saying everything is owned by him, nothing to do with the company.

0:34:080:34:11

I'm going to ring the office now and find out what they want to do.

0:34:110:34:16

He's saying, you know, "If you want to get your vans down and do a removal,

0:34:160:34:20

"then go for it."

0:34:200:34:22

I just want to know how far I can really push this.

0:34:220:34:25

Darryl and the office agree they must follow procedure

0:34:260:34:30

and issue a notice of seizure

0:34:300:34:32

as the first step in this enforcement.

0:34:320:34:34

What assets are in the office will be the court's on paper,

0:34:340:34:38

but they'll stay on the premises for now.

0:34:380:34:40

Darryl suspects what assets there are

0:34:400:34:43

might not be worth the value of the debt anyway.

0:34:430:34:46

Darryl informs Mr Maul of the decision.

0:34:460:34:50

These are our contact details, either email or post.

0:34:510:34:55

Obviously, if we don't get the proof, we're going to be back. There's going to be more charges on.

0:34:550:34:59

It's a disappointing end for Darryl,

0:34:590:35:01

but there's still a chance they can get a result down the line.

0:35:010:35:05

The office are prepared to give him chance to provide proof of ownership for all the goods in there.

0:35:050:35:10

Although I believe they are owned by the company...

0:35:110:35:14

He's got five days. He's not going to pay it.

0:35:140:35:17

I'm sure we'll be back.

0:35:170:35:19

As Darryl predicted, despite the seizure notice,

0:35:200:35:24

no money was paid.

0:35:240:35:26

So 13 weeks later it was time for Round Two,

0:35:260:35:30

as he and Mark went back to Level 1 Lincoln Ltd

0:35:300:35:33

to remove the goods they'd listed.

0:35:330:35:36

It's a case of deja vu for both the sheriffs and our camera.

0:35:370:35:41

I need to speak someone.

0:35:410:35:44

Mr Maul isn't there and we're asked to leave.

0:35:460:35:50

Nothing's been resolved from when we came out last time.

0:35:530:35:56

We gave you five days to provide evidence.

0:35:560:35:58

Darryl's given the news that all sheriffs dread -

0:35:580:36:02

an invoice document proves all the goods do indeed belong, on paper, to Mr Maul personally.

0:36:020:36:09

Even worse, he's told the company that they're after has stopped trading

0:36:090:36:13

and a new one set up, with Darren Maul as its director,

0:36:130:36:16

which is now based in the same office.

0:36:160:36:19

So, what are we saying this is now?

0:36:210:36:23

They were looking for Level 1 Lincoln Ltd.

0:36:240:36:27

They found Level 1 Group Lincoln Ltd, a different company.

0:36:270:36:33

Unfortunately, this enforcement is now dead in the water

0:36:330:36:37

because as Level 1 Group Lincoln is a different company,

0:36:370:36:40

it has no connection to Level 1 Lincoln's debts.

0:36:400:36:44

It's exactly the outcome Darryl didn't want.

0:36:440:36:47

All the documentation there is Level 1 Group,

0:36:470:36:51

which no-one bothered to tell us

0:36:510:36:53

till we'd been in there for 45 minutes!

0:36:530:36:57

We're after Level 1 Lincoln Ltd,

0:36:580:37:01

so this ain't going nowhere.

0:37:010:37:03

Companies being wound up

0:37:030:37:05

while new companies are set up in the same premises with almost identical names

0:37:050:37:10

is something the sheriffs encounter all too frequently.

0:37:100:37:13

Millions of pounds of debts every year are written off

0:37:130:37:16

as companies cease trading, go into liquidation or are dissolved,

0:37:160:37:20

with Level 1 Lincoln being another such case.

0:37:200:37:23

For the sheriffs, it's frustrating,

0:37:230:37:25

but however much they want to get their client's money, they must always obey the law.

0:37:250:37:31

Today, sheriffs Lawrence and Kev are heading north to Bedfordshire

0:37:370:37:41

for a showdown with one of the largest adversaries they've ever faced.

0:37:410:37:46

We're heading for Luton Airport

0:37:460:37:48

because we've got a writ against easyJet Airline Company Ltd,

0:37:480:37:52

a subsidiary of easyJet Plc.

0:37:520:37:54

They're attending on behalf of someone owed £1,283 by easyJet.

0:37:570:38:03

Small change for a company that made nearly £250 million profit last year,

0:38:030:38:08

but also a debt that hasn't been paid, as ordered.

0:38:080:38:12

Now Lawrence and Kev are going to remind them...

0:38:120:38:16

..in person.

0:38:170:38:19

The address we've got is Hanger 89, Luton Airport.

0:38:200:38:24

It is the registered address of the company,

0:38:240:38:26

so hopefully, it won't just be an aircraft hangar, there will be offices there.

0:38:260:38:31

They're determined to get the person's money today

0:38:320:38:34

and will be seizing any assets they can find as leverage,

0:38:340:38:37

whether it's office goods or an airliner.

0:38:370:38:41

But the first challenge is finding where they need to go.

0:38:410:38:46

-I'm here.

-Are we?

-What hangar are we after?

0:38:460:38:49

-Hangar 89.

-89? We're at nine.

-We're miles away.

0:38:490:38:54

See the two bits sticking out - the pointy bit and the flat bit?

0:38:540:38:57

There was easyJet planes out the back of there.

0:38:570:39:01

-There's a jet.

-Right! Right!

-Why right?

0:39:010:39:04

-Just turn right.

-I think you're wrong.

0:39:040:39:09

easyJet...

0:39:090:39:11

Oh, yes. Gotcha.

0:39:110:39:13

Finally, they find an easyJet sign and an office.

0:39:130:39:18

Where am I going to park?

0:39:180:39:21

I'll make my own space here.

0:39:210:39:23

Morning. We're looking for easyJet Airline Company Ltd, Hangar 89.

0:39:260:39:32

But the staff inside tell them this isn't the right place.

0:39:320:39:35

Instead, they've stumbled upon the easyJet Cabin Crew Training Centre.

0:39:350:39:40

Luckily, the receptionist is able to point Lawrence and Kev in the right direction.

0:39:400:39:46

-Do you know where you're going now?

-Yes.

-Are you sure?

0:39:460:39:50

I'm going the way I thought in the first place.

0:39:500:39:53

I told you to turn left out of that junction!

0:39:530:39:56

Lawrence looks to make up for Kev's mistakes.

0:39:560:39:59

She said go right up to the terminal building

0:40:000:40:02

and you've got the orange sign with easyJet on the roof.

0:40:020:40:05

-Ha! You can't miss that, can you?

-Do you mean that?!

-In here.

0:40:050:40:10

With the imposing easyJet HQ located,

0:40:100:40:13

Kev uses the intercom to let security know they've arrived.

0:40:130:40:16

What do I say here?

0:40:160:40:19

Just say we're enforcement officers. We...

0:40:190:40:21

-'Hello?'

-Hi there. We're High Court enforcement officers.

0:40:210:40:25

We need to see someone from easyJet.

0:40:250:40:28

Bosh!

0:40:300:40:32

It's checkin time at easyJet.

0:40:320:40:35

Hi there. My name's Mr Grix. I'm an enforcement officer.

0:40:350:40:39

I've got a High Court writ to execute against easyJet Airline Company Ltd.

0:40:390:40:42

-Oh, OK.

-I need to speak to somebody who can deal with, er, with that.

0:40:420:40:47

A public relations officer appears at reception to speak to Lawrence.

0:40:470:40:52

-Hi, gents. Can I help you at all?

-Hi there.

-Hello.

0:40:520:40:55

-Would you mind turning that off?

-We're asked to leave,

0:40:550:40:59

as she explains someone from accounts is coming down to discuss the debt with them.

0:40:590:41:03

We continue filming from outside, as Lawrence and Kev crank up the pressure.

0:41:030:41:08

We're ordered today to seize goods and potentially remove them to sell at auction.

0:41:080:41:13

-We did seize an aircraft last week somewhere else.

-A jet.

0:41:130:41:17

But today, Lawrence and Kev's presence alone is enough

0:41:170:41:21

and easyJet's planes can sleep easy.

0:41:210:41:25

Three quarters of an hour later, we pick up the action with Lawrence

0:41:250:41:28

who, having collected the full amount owed,

0:41:280:41:31

is a very satisfied sheriff.

0:41:310:41:33

Unsurprisingly, it was paid in full.

0:41:330:41:36

They did a bank transfer.

0:41:370:41:40

We asked them to bring a screen-grab down,

0:41:400:41:42

I checked the bank account and it was in

0:41:420:41:45

before the guy even reappeared with the screen print, so...

0:41:450:41:49

..all done, yeah.

0:41:500:41:52

EasyJet told us...

0:41:520:41:54

Since Pete visited Blackpool Airport and grounded three planes

0:42:030:42:06

belonging to Aircraft Grouping Ltd,

0:42:060:42:09

the debtor contacted the sheriffs

0:42:090:42:11

and offered to pay off the £6,000 debt owed to Steve Halliwell

0:42:110:42:16

in two payments over two months.

0:42:160:42:18

However, Steve rejected this offer, wanting his money sooner and in full.

0:42:180:42:24

If Aircraft Grouping Ltd don't agree to this,

0:42:240:42:27

the sheriffs will re-attend

0:42:270:42:29

with a view to removing the aircraft.

0:42:290:42:31

Earlier, we saw sheriffs Marc and Tony

0:42:320:42:35

visit the home of Smart Power director Rupert Sweet-Escott.

0:42:350:42:39

On the day, he paid the sheriffs £3,000

0:42:390:42:43

towards the £11,280 he owed Graham Short

0:42:430:42:47

for his ineffective wind turbines.

0:42:470:42:49

Since then, he's been back in touch with the sheriffs

0:42:490:42:52

and agreed to pay the remainder of the balance in full.

0:42:520:42:56

A pub landlord paid £10,000 for wind turbines, which didn't work, can sheriffs Marc and Tony get him his money back? Lawrence and Kev go in search of a horse as they attempt to recover money owed to a horse breeder. And sheriff Pete's got bad news for an aircraft company that hasn't paid its debts.