Thu, May 1, 2003

EXCLUSIVE printed in The Sun a UK National Daily newspaper.

Jail hell after cop gaffe

By JOHN TROUP and JUSTIN PENROSE

A BRITISH driver spent a night in a stinking French prison after being arrested for stealing a hire car he had returned FIVE MONTHS earlier.

Mark Nenadic, 38, was thrown in a cell with a cocaine smuggler and told he would be kept behind bars for at least 40 days.

But he was freed 24 hours later after the prison governor realised he was the victim of an appalling blunder by Euro cops.

Mark was arrested on the British side of the Channel Tunnel on Monday as he tried to cross to France. He was unaware a warrant had been wrongly issued for his arrest.

French cops spotted the warrant when they checked his passport and he was immediately taken to France.

Mark, from Peterborough, was interrogated for three hours and hauled before a prosecutor in Boulogne.

Then he was driven in handcuffs to 17th century Douai prison.

The telecoms analyst said: “I managed to get my mobile out in the prison van and sneakily texted my family about what was going on.

“When I got to the prison it was a filthy nuthouse full of psychopaths. It was your worst nightmare.

“I shared my cell with a cocaine smuggler who told me I’d be there at least 40 days. When I asked a guard if I could phone a lawyer he handed me a pad and said ‘You’re in France now, you can write’.” The warrant was issued after Mark hired a car from Hertz in Graz, Austria, last year.

He extended the hire at the firm’s branch in the capital Vienna and paid when he returned the car there. But staff in Graz wrongly thought the car was stolen.

They realised the mistake long before Mark’s arrest and had told police to cancel the warrant.

Mark was finally freed on Tuesday morning after Hertz chiefs – alerted by his family – worked through the night to prove his innocence.

Mark, who is temporarily living in Austria, was only in Britain so he could pick up a new BMW M3 and drive it back to the continent.

He said: “I’m thinking about suing the Austrian Police for this.”

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Now the rest of the story!!

Yep so I got arrested for something I didnt do and spent a day in French jail 🙁

Essentially what happened is this. I had flown into Austria via Graz the previous year and had rented a VW golf from hertz in Graz to drive to Vienna. When I got to Vienna I extended the hire and asked if I could drop the car off in Vienna, no probs they said.

So I merrily drove the vehicle around until xmas and then dropped it off in central Vienna. I thought no more about it and flew home for xmas. Around April of the following year (6 months later) I decided to fly home and pick up a BMW M3 cab I had just bought and then drive it back to Vienna with a friend going via the alps, a journey I love!

I flew into heathrow and was greeted by two smiling BMW salesmen with my nice shiney black M3evo mmmm how I love these moments in life! Drove home and had a nice week in the UK.

Loaded the car up and set off with Adam my friend to the channel tunnel on a nice sunny day. So there we are at passport control (French controlled) and for the first time in six months my passport is checked 🙁 Alarm bells go off and I am whisked out of the car and into a very small room because there is a “problem” with me! My freind bless him didnt know what to do so pulled my beemer over to the side.

For four hours I sit waiting to see what the hell is going on until finally I am told I have to go over to France with them in a van to see a judge in Bolougne! Adam you will have to follow us in the beemer mate!

So we drive all the way there after taking the train with me handcuffed in the back, Gods I am such a crim! I am hauled before a judge on a bank holiday Monday who tells me that while she believes I have not stolen a rental car from hertz her hands are tied by French law and I must go to jail in Douai until Tuesday when she will try and sort it out. “be brave monsiour” were her parting words!

My god what did she mean by that little statement? is Douai the sing sing of France then? Oh yes it is!!!

On the 3 hour drive to the jail I sneakily in the back of the van texted Adam who was still at the channel tunnel (French side now) and told him to go back to the UK! I also texted my sister and bro and told them to rescue me from this evolving hell!

So I arrive at the jail. A moment I will never forget. I have done many things in my life but I have never been in a jail and it is quite sobering I can tell you. Especially when noone speaks English, So strip search, clothes taken forms photos fingerprints the whole shebang and all the while im laughing! I am quite mad and I did think it was funny, a bit monty python to be honest!

They decided to put me in a cell (thankfully) with a Dutch cocaine smuggler. MR BIG himself who actually was a very very nice guy. The cells in Douai are as basic as you can imagine and very cold even in summer! He actually offered me to start smuggling into the Uk via boat (I am an accomplished sailor) Said I could earn 5 mill a year easily! Which just goes to show that if your not a crim when you go in you might be when you come out! I politley declined.

He then told me that I could be in there for at least 40 days as France is very slow with all things prison related. Indeed your actually NOT allowed to ring anyone at all! You are given pen and paper and you can write. If you have money though you can buy yourself a better life inside!

I went to bed on a very thin sponge mattress that had seen better days with one blanket! The next day I awoke to breakfast consisting of one small piece of bread a plain youghurt and a pear 🙁 man this place is archaic in the extreme! Still everything will be alright once the cream custard arrives 🙂

At about 11am I was escorted to the wardens office (who also didnt speak English) and was asked through a not very good interpreteur if I wanted to work in the Kitchens. No no you dont understand I said its all a mistake! I wont be here long, to which they laughed a lot!

Next thing a guard enters the room and just like a comedy unfolding before my very eyes gabbles something in French to the warden who says in broken English “You can go monsieur” follow this man.

So I followed him thinking this has got to be a joke, but sure enough he gave me all my clothes back and all my stuff, got me to sign a form and within 15 mins I was outside the front gate!

I couldnt beleive it and had an overwhelming sense to get away as fast as possible. I jumped on a bus that took me to the train station where I got in a taxi and asked him to take me to Calais (a 1.30 mins drive)

I arrived at Calais and dont think I have ever felt so nervous about handing my passport over! What if they havnt taken me off the database I kept thinking, they could arrest me all over again and I could get caught in some perpetual loop 🙁 Fortunalty they didnt and I made it to the UK alright, my mate rang the Sun and other newspapers and I was inundated with offers for my story which I sold to the Sun (the best offer) my 15mins of fame 🙂

I didnt sue Hertz at the time although I was advised too. The head of Hertz security was intsrumental in getting me released so im told. I am however wary of car hire firms now though! Especially in Europe. I did explain at the time that if I was going to steal a hire car I wouldnt give a valid credit card and also my passport! It seems logic does not prevail in these situations though!

Mark…