Man loses job after web spat over ‘rape truck’

The controversial truck image.
The controversial truck image.
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A GYM chain has severed its connections with a man who sparked an online spat over a ‘kidnap’ sticker on his truck.

James Hellewell’s truck hit the headlines after people flocked to Twitter to voice their concerns over the image, which was spotted in Leeds last weekend and shows a woman tied up with a bag over her head.

Mr Hellewell, from Wakefield, caused a Twitter storm after using the hashtag ‘#rapetruck’ in response to some of the comments.

Now Total Fitness, in Wakefield. has ended its connections with the personal trainer.

The company said on Twitter: “We condemn all forms of violence and intimidation towards women. All association with freelance PT, James Hellewell, have been terminated.”

After receiving complaints from the public last weekend, West Yorkshire Police stepped in to say that if he continued to drive with the sticker it could result in a public order offence.

Chief inspector Steve Palmer, Leeds city centre commander, said: “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.”

According to Twitter, Mr Hellewell said he didn’t mean to cause any offence and the sticker has been removed. He later said: “It’s boring now it’s removed and I’ve apologised get a grip.”

In response to Twitter users, he said: “How does it signify rape tell me? For a start the picture was my mum so hardly rape.”

The YEP previously reported that a Leeds woman had been targeted by online trolls after exposing the controversial bumper sticker on Twitter.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: “I was just absolutely disgusted and outraged.

“Some people are arguing it is freedom of speech to have that on your car, but it is not speech, it is an image on a van and it contributes to a culture that attracts and normalises this kind of behaviour. It’s in my city and I am not OK with this kind of culture being tolerated in Leeds.

She added: “Even if you disagree with the image, it is not right to threaten people.”

Mr Hellewell was unavailable for comment.

A British Rail Class 155 diesel multiple unit (DMU) at Leeds station. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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