Bideford car dealers plead guilty to selling dangerous vehicles

Posted on: 17 June 2016

Two used car dealers operating out of Bideford have pleaded guilty to supplying dangerous and unroadworthy vehicles and false advertising, in a prosecution brought by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service.

At the start of a trial at Exeter Crown Court on Monday 13 June, Paul Fitzgerald John Hussey, 49, and Adam George Wallis, 27, pleaded guilty to a number of offences.

All the offences were under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 acts. Both will be sentenced at the end of July.

Hussey, who now lives in Ireland, was landlord of Quigley’s Custom House in Bridgland Street, Bideford and Wallis was the manager – together they set up DX Motors Ltd dealership on the Clovelly Road Industrial Estate.

From there they sold second-hand cars that were unsafe, unroadworthy and ‘misdescribed’.

The court heard that one vehicle, a VW Golf sold by Wallis, was in such a dangerous condition that the day after purchase the front passenger wheel fell off as the new owner was driving though Bideford.

A BMW 325i, brought by a young mother who had saved up for two years, was sold with the rear metal brake pipe hanging loosely under the rear of the vehicle.

There was also so much wear in the rear suspension bushings the car was at risk of unpredictable handling, particularly when braking.

Another vehicle, a BMW 316, which both Hussey and Wallis admitted supplying, was sold with both front brake hoses in such a bad condition the brakes could have failed at any time.

After receiving complaints in 2013, Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service asked an expert motor vehicle engineer to look at some of the cars, and found that three were dangerous and unroadworthy.

One vehicle had been supplied with incomplete road springs, a defective hand brake and front brake hoses that had deteriorated to a dangerous condition.

At the start of the trial each man offered a separate ‘basis of plea’ – level of culpability – to the court, with Hussey asserting that he was not primarily responsible for the business.

But during a hearing on Thursday 16 June, Judge Jeremy Griggs ruled that Hussey was the main proprietor of the business.

He added that Hussey was not a credible witness, that he was ‘entirely satisfied’ that the business was his and that Hussey made most of the decisions.

The court heard that Hussey had previously pleaded guilty in February 2013 at Barnstaple Magistrates’ Court for supplying an unroadworthy Mitsubishi L200.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s cabinet member with

Cllr Roger Croad

Cllr Roger Croad

responsibility for the trading standards service, said: ‘Trading Standards Officers always believed that Hussey was the driving force behind the business.

“Supplying dangerous vehicles not only endangers the occupants of the vehicle but could have had serious implications for other road users.  The defendants showed no consideration for the safety of the consumers and repeatedly and deliberately mislead them in to buying unroadworthy vehicles.”

Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council said:  “This Cllr David Hallcase highlights that rogue trading of any kind will not be tolerated by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service. I am pleased that we have been able to bring this case to court, which is largely due to the readiness of the victims of this rogue trading, and other witnesses, to give evidence.

“We will continue to do all we can to protect our residents from such damaging unfair trading practices by taking necessary enforcement action as and when required and through the Buy With Confidence scheme.

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