A DARTON man is now struggling to put food on the table for his kids after police ‘smashed up’ his work van as they believed there was a dead body inside - only to find maggots from his fishing trip.

Last month James Exley, 33, went on a week-long holiday and left his work van outside his mother-in-law’s house on Bridge Street - something he’s been doing for the last few years.

The night before he left he decided he wanted to go fishing with his son and because they were leaving early in the morning he didn’t have the chance to take his fishing gear out of his van, and so he left a tub of maggots inside.

Over the week James was away there were a number of flies accumulating in the van which alerted authorities who, on the day he returned, ‘smashed up’ his van and broke the windscreen to try and get inside.

However James says the police made no attempt to contact him or even his mother-in-law who was inside the house next to his vehicle.

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He told the Chronicle: “It’s pathetic and I genuinely can’t believe what they’ve done.

“I’d just got back from my week-long holiday and I saw an unmarked police car at the top of the street and then saw my van was all smashed up.

“I asked them about it and I wanted to know why’d they done it and they just said that they thought there was a dead body inside.

“I’ve parked the van on that street for ages and I don’t know why they’ve not just knocked on the door.

“Why can’t they just do their job properly for once?

“They didn’t care about what they’d done at all.”

James is still paying £200 every month for the van which he uses for his work - and he says he’s losing more than £150 every day because he can’t do his job.

“The van is in a compound now and it’s built up a massive bill that keeps going up and up - I’m not going to be pay it because I can’t afford to and I’ve done nothing wrong,” he added.

“I’m losing at least £150 every day because I’m unable to work and so I reckon I’ve lost a couple of grand since it happened on September 2.

“I’m just being fobbed off by the police and I just want their insurance details because it’s their fault that this has happened.

“I’ve got two kids and a house to run - I’m struggling to pay rent because of this.

“I’ve tried absolutely everything and I don’t know where else to go.”

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police told the Chronicle: “Police responded to a concern for safety after we received a report on September 2 that a van parked on Bridge Street, Darton, had been there for a number of weeks with nobody seen in it.

“Officers attended and were unable to locate the owner to gain access.

“They managed to get into the van and established there was nothing suspicious.

“The owner was eventually located and was safe and well.”