A RELIEVED driver praised the Mini dimensions of his motor after freeing the vehicle from its concrete prison.

Wesley Jones, 19, was shocked to discover his red Mini Cooper barricaded into a car park next to the Focus DIY store, off Rushbottom Lane, Benfleet, when he returned from a long weekend in London, late on Monday night.

The Mini had been blocked in the car park since Saturday, when the landlord sealed off its entrances with concrete blocks, following the DIY chain’s closure.

Fortunately, Wesley and his mum Faith, 45, were able to use the small size of the car to mastermind an escape via a footpath, which joins the parking area to a neighbouring service road.

They were forced to make their escape in the early hours of yesterday morning, as Faith needed the vehicle to visit her sister in Norwich.

Wesley, of neighbouring Lambeth Road, explained: “We didn’t think we could get it through the gap. I think we spent almost two hours trying to figure out how we could get it out.

“In the end we gave it a go, but I was terrified of scratching the paintwork.

“The gap was literally the size of the Mini. There was about 5cms on either side.

“I should be grateful it’s so small. I’ve also got a Ford Capri and there’s absolutely no way it would have got out.”

The great escape was met with amazement by Huseyin Hassan, who runs the Wimpy store in London Road.

He said: “I don’t know how they did it, it must have been some sort of miracle.

“I thought they’d have to use a crane.”

Meanwhile, a row over the car park’s closure is brewing, as nearby businesses say they rely on passing trade from shoppers who used to leave their cars there.

Castle Point Council is currently in talks with the landowner over reopening the parking area.

However, Wesley, who works at Canvey hairdresser Frequency Barber Shop, was just pleased to have his £6,000 car back.

He added: “I’ve always been told we can use the car park as extra residential parking.

“I think it should be open, but I am more relieved we were able to get the car out.”