A motorist was left with four punctured tyres after police wrongly targeted him with a stinger – and then told HIM to pay a £150 recovery charge.
Terrified Nathan Poole, 32, was brought to an abrupt halt by the spiked device and ordered out of his van at gunpoint by armed police.
Officers quickly realised they had the wrong man and took off in the opposite direction – leaving Nathan stranded at the side of the road.
After waiting 45 minutes to be rescued he was told he would be towed to the police compound – but would have to pay a £150 fee.
Dad-of-one Nathan refused and instead called out a different mechanic to come and fit four new tyres to the rented Vauxhall Vivano.
Re-living the terrifying ordeal as he drove home from work, he said: “I nearly had a heart attack when it first happened. It was pretty scary.
“I was distracted by a man who was hiding behind a tree. He popped his head out which made me take my eyes off the road.
“The next thing I knew was there was a noise under the van and all my tyres had gone. I originally thought I had driven over an animal or something.
“I stopped the van and went to get out. I put one foot on the road and the next thing I knew was that there were two armed police pointing their guns at me.
“They ordered me to get back into the van in a violent and authoritative tone.”
Satellite engineer Nathan, of Droitwich, Worcs., was driving near Ston Easton, Somerset, at around 4pm last Friday when his white van was taken out by the stinger.
After ordering him out of the vehicle at gunpoint, an officer sheepishly told him they had got the wrong man.
They had actually been searching for Nicholas Caple, who is wanted for burglary, assaulting a police officer and escaping police custody and is still on the run.
The 29-year-old was the subject of a huge, unsuccessful search operation which saw 20 police cars and a helicopter descend on Bristol city centre.
A team of 30 officers raced to the Marriott Hotel which was sealed off for half an hour before it was clear the speedy suspect had given them the slip.
It is believed police are hunting him in connection with a string of robberies of ATMs.
Meanwhile Nathan, who had been on his way to pick up his two-year-old daughter Callie, remained stranded 15 miles away in a useless white van.
Red-faced cops promised him the police recovery truck would take him to a garage for new tyres.
They told him he would have to fork out for the repairs but could claim the money back from the force’s legal services team.
But after waiting 45 minutes Nathan decided to take matters into his own hands and organised his own rescue truck.
Nathan, who lives with partner Kelly Rimmer, 30, added: “I’m more light about it now but I didn’t find it funny at all at the time.
“It was absolutely terrifying. I lost four hours because I was 80 miles away from home and it completely ruined my day.
“A police officer rang me later in the evening and told me that they were trying to catch a man wanted for robberies of cash machines.
“The officers were also involved in the incident in Bristol city centre at the Marriott Hotel. He told me that the man they were after had got away.”
Avon and Somerset Constabulary said the search for Caple continues and appealed for him to hand himself in.
A spokesman refused to comment on the stinger incident.
Referring to the hotel operation, Detective Inspector Neil Meade said: “This was a large scale operation and used a number of resources from across the force including the helicopter.
“This response was entirely appropriate when dealing with one of our most wanted offenders.”
He added: “I’d like to repeat our appeal to the public to help us catch him.
“Although, we would advise all members of the public not to approach him if seen, we need you to call us straight away if you have any information.
“I would also appeal directly to Caple to hand himself in now.”
Caple is described as white, of slim build, 5ft 8ins tall with blue eyes and blonde hair.