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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 19:45 GMT
Parrot shoulders blame for tax offence
African Grey parrot
Police heard Mr Lomax's story about the parrot's antics
A motorist has escaped a police penalty after his African Grey parrot chewed up his road tax disc.

John Lomax, 55, from Jarrow, South Tyneside, was given a 30 fixed penalty fine, the first of his life, for having no tax disc on display.

But he turned up at Washington Police station with his evidence - a badly chewed tax disc and Jake the Parrot.

Police accepted his excuse that the parrot had removed the tax disc with his beak, and Mr Lomax was let off with a warning.

Police shocked

Mr Lomax said the trouble started when the parrot managed to get into his van. He explained: "He got onto the dashboard, and pulled my tax discs out and started to chew them up.

"Fortunately I spotted him, got them off him, and stuck them back into the van. But I mixed them up and when the police came round that night I was given a fixed penalty."

He said: "Police were a bit shocked when I walked into the police station with Jake on my shoulder.

Road tax disc
Jake loves to eat paper and pens

"I presented the fixed penalty ticket and told them the parrot had pulled the discs out.

"They had to accept my disc was in order - it doesn't run out until next May.

"The police thought it was hilarious - a real joke, they were taking photographs, and I was there for half an hour.

"I completed the mitigation form, and Jake was playing with the sergeant's pen as he was filling in the paperwork."

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "The gentleman was in a bit of a flap when he came in to see us.

"Once we were aware of the circumstances and saw the parrot the ticket was removed."

'Chews clothes'

Mr Lomax said Jake also likes to chew clothes, zips and pens, and could say "I am a lovely parrot" and "A lovely cup of tea".

He was bought for Mr Lomax's mother-in-law but he had to take the parrot into his home because it was aggravating her asthma.

Mr Lomax, who runs a plant nursery, said: "If anyone comes to the nursery he is straight out, he flies outside and follows them around.

"He likes to play - he likes to roll around on his back and chew up letters that the postman has left on the mat."

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See also:

09 Oct 01 | England
Police search for stolen 'Squeeky'
18 Jul 01 | Scotland
Exotic birds go native
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