This is the weirdest and most mundane case of mistaken identity ever. A bailiff arrived at the home of Emma Caresimo and ordered her to pay a hefty fine for dropping a cigarette butt in Wigan, England. The weird part? Caresimo lives three hours away in Wales, has never been to Wigan, and does not smoke.
Emma Caresimo was at home with her three-year-old son when a bailiff arrived and clamped her Volkswagen Golf. The only way the bailiff would remove the clamp was if Caresimo paid a £650 litter fine (that is about $941 US Dollars) for dropping a cigarette butt in the town of Wigan. Caresimo tried to plead her case to the bailiff, but he would not budge.
"I said 'I have never been to Wigan and I don't smoke' but he wasn't having any of it. He didn't believe me and said he'd heard it all before," she explained to the BBC. The bailiff simply handed her a torn half sheet of notebook paper that read:
9th Feb 2015
Market Place Wigan
No Court attendance
A cryptically written note on a torn up sheet of paper? Hm, That doesn't exactly sound like the protocol, but sure? The bailiff then valued her car on the spot for £3700. Let's hope he is better at appraising vehicles than being a bailiff.
Why was Caresimo connected to cigarette butt at all? Apparently, the woman they were looking for had the same last name as Caresimo's maiden name, as well as the same birth date.
Of course, just seeing someone's last name and birth date seems like some sloppy detective work. After all, "Smith" was Caresimo's maiden name...and plenty of people share birthdays. George W. Bush and Sylvester Stallone are born on the same day, but no one is blaming Stallone for 9/11.
According to an HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) spokesperson, the woman they were looking for was Emma Smith, who had an outstanding unpaid fixed penalty notice. Smith was in Liverpool, probably living it up and flinging her cigarette butts every which way without a care in the world.
"We prosecuted under this Liverpool address and have never issued any proceedings to a Welsh address or instructed any court or bailiff to visit a Welsh property," says Paul Barton, assistant director of operational services at Wigan council.
Well, someone done goofed! What happens in cases where no one wants to take the blame? You guessed it. Blame human error!
The HMCTS spokesperson said, "As a result of human error HMCTS wrongly took enforcement action against an individual with the same name and date of birth as an offender." She then went on to say, "We are deeply sorry for any distress caused by this regrettable incident and have arranged for the money to be refunded. We have taken steps to avoid this happening in future."
Would the real Emma Smith please stand up?