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'Car thief did this, now I've got to pay £650'

89-year-old James Roberts and his son-in-law Mick Whiles survey the damage
89-year-old James Roberts and his son-in-law Mick Whiles survey the damage
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The family of an 89-year-old great-grandfather has hit out at the “earth-shatteringly disgusting” insurance excess charges he must pay after thieves broke into his home, stole his car, then crashed it into his garden wall.

Retired electrical engineer James Roberts faces paying out £650 in charges after the incident at his home in Cromwell Road, Ribbleton, on Monday afternoon.

READ MORE>>> Crowdfunding appeal launched to help 89-year-old great-grandfather facing £650 insurance charges

While he was upstairs, a thief entered his kitchen through an unlocked door, took the keys to his garage, his car keys and an electric door fob, then reversed his car out of the garage at speed before losing control and smashing into his garden wall.

Witnesses claim the car was inches away from hitting a woman and her child on the footpath.

A man was then seen to run back up the drive and flee through the garden.

Mr Robert’s son-in-law Mick Whiles said insult was added to injury when he discovered the excess charges on the house and car insurance policies.

He said: “Through no fault of his own, my father-in-law has been left car-less, stressed, with a smashed wall, and has to pay for the privilege.

“I think it’s earth-shatteringly disgusting.”

The excess charge on the LV car insurance for the red 2003 Toyota Avensis is £500. Mr Whiles was initially told by home insurer Axa that two lots of a £150 excess would apply - one for theft of keys, and one for damage to the wall.

However after contact by the Lancashire Post, the company said an error was made and only one charge of £150 applies.

Mr Roberts, who lost his wife Elizabeth in February, and has undergone radiotherapy treatment for cancer this year, said: “It’s been a bad year. It’s been one thing after another.

“I must admit, I struggled to sleep on Monday night, thinking about it.”

Speaking about the excess charges, he added: “It doesn’t seem right does it? That’s the way the law works though I suppose.

“I’m lost without my car. I have appointments at the hospital and I need it to get around day-to-day for things like shopping.

“It was a belting car, in excellent condition, it had only done 62,000 miles.”

The car could be written off by the insurance company if the damage outweighs the value of the car.

Mr Whiles said: “The worst case scenario is that the car is written off and it costs him a few thousand to get a new one.

“We could decide not to pay the excess, but the car has been taken for forensic analysis by the police and has sat in a compound for two days at £250 a day.

“This would be paid for by the insurance company, so we’re getting charged either way.

“Apparently, you can get the excess refunded if the person responsible is convicted, but how likely is that?

“I think there should be some scheme where victims in these cases get compensation from the proceeds of crime.”