I left school with no qualifications but became Britain's hardest repo man making £10k a day beating brutal gangsters | The Sun

WRESTLING gangsters, fending off thugs with samurai swords and squaring up to drug dealers – it's all in a day's work for 'Britain’s toughest repo guy'.

Over the past 28 years Sean James, 51, from Staffordshire, has reclaimed 66,000 cars "at a very modest estimate" from the nation's most brutal thugs and criminals.

He found his calling "by accident" after flunking his school exams and leaving without any qualifications.

After stints in the Royal Navy and a private detective agency, he went into repossessions where he became known for taking on the worst cases that companies had "virtually written off" as lost.

Sean's reputation led him to star in Channel 4 doc Repo Man in 2013 and now he's an internet sensation, racking up 13million views on YouTube alone.

Despite his impressive history, the 6ft 3in, 18st star, 51, tells The Sun: “I'm not a hard guy. Yeah I stand up for myself, but I wouldn't go down as one of history's hard men.


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"The thing with me is that I don't give a f*** what happens, even when people have pointed guns at me, tried to hit me with hammers and attacked me with knives.

"When you hear 'You're f*****g dead' every day you get accustomed to it.

"I never back down, it's my job to get those cars back no matter what."

Over the years Sean's taken on notorious gangsters, most of which were armed with guns, knives and baseball bats.

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Sean spent five years in the Royal Navy and served during the First Gulf WarCredit: Sean James – Supplied

Surprisingly his long list of violent showdowns have ended with him relatively unscathed, driving away in high-end Ferraris, Porsches, Aston Martins – and once a £2million stone-crushing machine.

Sean enrolled in the Royal Navy at 16 and serves for five years on destroyers and the aircraft carrier Ark Royal during the First Gulf War in 1991.

He left unsure of his next move, and flicked through the Yellow Pages for “something that might appeal”.

Sean stumbled upon a private detective agency, where he chased people "all over the country" to serve warrants – which exposed him to the world of repossessions.

When you hear 'You're f*****g dead' every day you get accustomed to it

“I managed to find this toyboy, who was ex-French Foreign Legion, who had stolen a speedboat and van,” he recalls. “There was a bit of a fight but he lost. 

“When I returned them, I was told, ‘We’ve never seen anyone like you’. I was good at it – young, fit and strong, straight out of the Navy, and didn’t care what people said to me.”

It was his first foray into a business that earned him up to £10,000 a day during his best years. On a good day, he'd reclaim 30 cars in a 24-hour period.

At 23 Sean contacted finance companies asking to take on their worst cases which they had “virtually written off” as being “impossible” to retrieve.

Within days, he'd come up with the goods.

'Blood everywhere'

Despite sometimes getting into scrapes, he only ever sustained “chipped bones and stitches in the head” – usually from being beaten with a baseball bat.

Sean recalls: “One of the worst was in Southampton when this 30st guy stormed out of the house and there was a massive brawl in the garden with all the family and the neighbours. 

“The big guy was running at me, so I tried to kick him in the b******s but it did f*** all because he was too fat.

"It ended with blood everywhere and everyone in the hospital and then in the cells overnight.

“I had five stitches from that repossession after getting hit over the head with a garden ornament. But it was pretty normal to get knives, baseball bats and even guns pulled on you.

"Someone tried to put a Samurai sword through the door of a car we were driving off and on another job, someone started revving a chainsaw moments before the police showed up."

One of Sean's trickiest repossessions was a stone crusher, worth £2million, from a Scottish gang who kept it for two years because no one could retrieve it.

“Other firms got the s*** kicked out of them trying to get it back, he was the hardest gangster in Scotland and we got it back,” Sean tells us proudly.  

“One of the guys I took with me was 20st, he was a huge, massive bloke and he was s*****g his pants. They came at us with everything but we didn’t back down.”

Someone tried to put a Samurai sword through the door of a car we were driving off and on another job, someone started revving a chainsaw moments before the police showed up

Rather than trying to out-muscle his opponents, Sean relies on power holds learned from the marital arts Goshikwai and Judo.

“Punching is not the answer,” he says. “You could be punching forever and a day. I found it’s easier to choke someone out cold.

“There’s no blood, I don’t break my hands or their face and it saves a lot of messing around.”

That can’t always be said for those he comes up against -including one muscle-clad bodybuilder.

“There was this steroid user, who was huge," Steve recalls.

"I was hooking up the wheels of his car when next thing I know I’m covered in glass from him smashing the lights out with a baseball bat.

“I managed to get him in a chokehold and his eyes started bleeding. I wasn't sure if he was dead or alive when we drove away but then he called me.

“He asked if he could get his bag out of the boot. When I looked it was full of steroids. I drove back and there he was, sunglasses on and dried blood on his face.”

Death threats

Sean puts his success down to “missing the fear gene" – but there is one side of the job which gets to him.

He tells how one Liverpudlian gangster threatened to kill him and burn his house down.

It followed a finance company unintentionally sending the criminal a document with Sean's name, address and phone number.

“He was a player and knew what he was doing,” Sean recalls. “He phoned me to say he knew where I lived, told me my address on the phone and threatened to show up.

“I said, ‘I’ll stop you there. I’ve just sat down with fish fingers, chips and beans, I’ve been working all day and I’m hungry. So I’ll eat and deal with you when you get here.’

I managed to get him in a chokehold and his eyes started bleeding. I wasn't sure if he was dead or alive when we drove away but then he called me

“I put the phone down and he rang again and yelled ‘You f*****g w****r, I’m going to kill you and burn your house.’ I interrupted again and hung up shortly after.

“I couldn’t believe the finance company had given my address to one of the most dangerous people in Britain. They set him on a warpath.”

The gangster didn’t show up – and fearless Sean even managed to get an apology out of him.

“For about a month I’d ring him at 2am or 3am to say, ‘Hello, you still haven’t been to my house’ and would call him whenever I was in his area," he says.

“I rang him every night and in the end he told me, ‘I’m not coming to your house’ and apologised. He was a big f****r too.”


Sean was often outnumbered on his repo jobs – including during a trip to a travellers' site to reclaim a static caravan.

He recalls: "There was me and two other guys and we were surrounded. Then one bloke turned up in a big Jeep with a shotgun.

“I told him, ‘You either f*****g shoot me and get done for murder over a static caravan or you pay the money. He paid the £25,000.”

While Sean still tackles the "really hard jobs", in recent years he's more focused on his YouTube channel Repo Man, where he recreates some of his most shocking and hilarious repossession jobs.

I told him, ‘You either f***ing shoot me and get done for murder over a static caravan or you pay the money. He paid the £25,000

“You get action, drama, fighting, cars getting smashed and blown up and there’s Only Fools and Horses style comedy in there and people love it," he says.

“People recognise me on the street as Repo Man. They love my story. I left school with no qualifications and made a success of myself, which inspires people to believe in themselves.”

Despite taking on some of the nation's toughest thugs, he says he's bombarded by trolls online.

He tells us: “Society’s gone made. It’s so bizarre, I get loads of comments calling me a fat w****r, threatening to kick my head in and wishing my kids would die. 

“One bloke ripped the s*** out of me online, called me a p***k and a d***head. He even posted what he thought was my address online. 

“I looked at his profile picture, saw he was married and they weren’t the best-looking people, so I wrote, ‘Glad you found love after The Undateables.' 

“He then sent me a message saying I shouldn’t take the p*** out of him and should just take it. Then he posts my ‘address’ and links to where my missus works online.

“I had to block this one bloke because he kept sending me emails once a month asking to meet up for a fight. There’s no respect anymore.”

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Despite the trolls, Sean feels like he's having the last laugh, as every hate-filled comment a person leaves boosts his social media presence.

“I love it,” he says. “It helps my videos get millions of views.”

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