Firefighters were called to Swanpool yesterday evening after a car was left precariously balanced with its rear wheels hanging over the water.

The driver got out of the hired Vauxhall to get an ice cream from the Swanpool Beach Cafe, but while he was inside it started rolling, gaining momentum as it went.

Pete Lochrie, the cafe owner, said: “It set off down the road, up the pavement, and up onto the parapet. "It looked like something out of The Italian Job.”

Pete said the man was driving the hire car, from Newquay, while his was in the garage being repaired.

He had said that his usual car has an automatic parking brake which engages when the engine is switched off, and he forgot he was in a car without that feature.

He added: “It was a very expensive ice cream.”

However, the driver told the Packet that he believes he left the vehicle's handbrake on, and said "I don't know how it rolled backwards," adding that he reapplied the handbrake after the car had come to rest.

He said: “When I went out to go to the wall I put the handbrake on to make sure it didn't go any further. When the fire brigade went to secure it the handbrake was off again.”

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said: “Five firefighters from Falmouth attended a call to a vehicle which had become precariously balanced on a wall with its front wheels hanging over towards the Swan pool. Crews used a winch to recover the vehicle.”