A WOMAN has been compensated by Essex Police who locked her up for a crime she didn’t commit – despite them having CCTV footage proving her innocence.

Beverley Bennett, from St Peters Road, Chadwell St Mary, was held in a police cell for six hours on suspicion of stealing petrol from her local garage, even though staff told police the thieves were male.

The 58-year-old had been at the garage, but had filled up and paid for her petrol an hour after the theft, on May 20.

She was arrested on June 24, and eventually released after police checked the footage they had been given in May. But then her nightmare continued.

Her car, parked by police in a lay-by, had been stolen.

Beverley said she was “absolutely furious” at the whole ordeal – and that it has shaken her faith in the police.

She added: “I was on my way to pick up my terminally ill mother for a hospital appointment when I was pulled over.

“The police don’t care about people’s lives, they just want to make an arrest.”

Beverley later found out staff at the Tesco garage, in Brentwood Road, had given police her registration number and the CCTV footage by mistake, as she drove a black Honda Accord, similar to that driven by the thieves.

Instead of checking the footage, police just entered Beverley’s registration number, but not her sex, on the national computer, and she was picked up on the A13 a month later.

She added: “I can’t understand why the police never came to my house, or why they didn’t write to me about it.

“If they had checked the CCTV footage when they got it, I wouldn’t have been arrested.” Beverley was left without a car for six months.

She wanted to sue the police for her ordeal, but said most solicitors weren’t interested as it involved the police.

Eventually she found someone in Liverpool willing to take on her case, and settled out of court for £2,000.

Beverley still uses the garage in Brentwood Road, but joked: “I definitely keep all my receipts now, not just for weeks, but months!”

Essex Police still haven’t caught the real thieves. A spokesman said: “An investigation has concluded that, when crime details were recorded on Essex Police’s systems, vital detail was missed.

“This was human error and the member of staff concerned has been spoken to.”