The image of a man towering over an apparently lifeless body with a pick axe handle prompted a Google Street View user to contact police to report a murder.

But when officers arrived at the scene they were greeted by the victim, who revealed the attack was a practical joke.

When mechanics Dan Thompson, 56, and Gary Kerr, 31, spotted the Google Street View car approaching their garage in Giles Street, Edinburgh, they decided it was an ideal opportunity for a prank.

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Mr Thompson said: "I saw the Street View car going in the other end of our road.

"Anyone who works in the motor trade has a sense of humour so we decided to stage our horrifying tableau.

"We couldn't let an opportunity like that go past. You've got to seize the opportunity.

"All I could think of was to get Gary out with a pick axe handle. If we had had another 30 seconds we would have really set it up."

Street View was launched as part of Google Maps in 2007 to provide 360-degree views of roads across the world.

The images are captured by Google vehicles fitted with cameras, and people caught on camera - such as Mr Kerr - have their faces blurred for privacy reasons.

Mr Thompson, who runs Tomson Motor Company, said they pulled off the stunt in August 2012 but the images were not uploaded on to the internet for several months.

It was not until the following August that two police officers turned up to find out what had happened.

"One of our suppliers said 'I've just spotted you on the internet'," Mr Thompson recalled. "Then it all went quiet until a policeman and a policewoman turned up with grins on their faces, saying 'We've had a report of a murder'.

"They knew it was the kind of waggish thing mechanics would do. They were here for 10 minutes and they thought it was hilarious."