Leeds pick-up truck kidnap sticker: Owner apologises over picture of woman tied-up

Police warned driver he could face a public order offence

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The Independent Online

A Leeds man has been given a warning by police over a disturbing sticker on the tailboard of his truck appearing to show a woman bound and with a hood over her head.

The vehicle owner drove around Leeds with a sticker that depicts a woman tied-up and lying down in the back of his truck.

A picture of the sticker circulated on social media, prompting outage and calls for it to be banned.

James Hellewell, who describes himself as a personal trainer on social media, confirmed he is the owner of the truck on Twitter and tweeted about the sticker using the hashtag #rapetruck.

A shocked mother spotted the sticker while out in the city with her three-year-old child and reported it to police.

After receiving a string of complaints from "alarmed" members of the public about the sticker, West Yorkshire Police tracked down Mr Hellwell and warned him he could be charged with a public order offence if he continued to display the image on his vehicle.

On Twitter, he wrote: “I’ve taken advice from chief superintendent south West Yorkshire police and have removed this sticker from my vehicle”.

Mr Hellewell stressed the sticker was “truly a joke” and apologised for any offence caused.

He dismissed anger over the term “rape” and claimed the image was a picture of his mother, which he said meant it was “hardly rape”. 

"It's boring now, it's removed and I've apologised, get a grip,” he added.

Total Fitness, the gym Mr Hellewell appeared to work at, said it  condemns " all forms of violence and intimidation towards women" and that it has terminated "all association" with him.

Chief Inspector Steve Palmer, Leeds City Centre Commander, said police were contacted by a concerned caller raising concerns about a photographic image they had seen on the back of a pick-up truck in Leeds city centre.

He said: “These concerns were also raised on social media which prompted a number of similar complaints to West Yorkshire Police. It was clear that a number of people had found the image offensive and had been alarmed and distressed by it being displayed in public.

“The registered keeper of the vehicle was traced and spoken to by officers and made aware of the concerns raised and the potential for the continued display of the image to be treated as a public order offence. They have agreed to have the image removed from the vehicle.”