Used car dealers sentenced

Posted on: 25 July 2016

Two used car dealers operating out of Bideford, North Devon, have been found guilty of selling dangerous and unroadworthy second-hand cars.

At Exeter Crown Court on 21 July 2016, Paul Fitzgerald John Hussey received a suspended sentence and was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and Adam George Wallis was ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid work.

In summing up the judge said it was only by luck that their activities had not led to a ‘serious road accident.’

The pair pleaded guilty to supplying dangerous and unroadworthy vehicles and false advertising, in a prosecution brought by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service.

All the offences were under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

Hussey, who now lives in South Wales, was landlord of Quigley’s Custom House in Bridgland Street, Bideford and Wallis, now living in Portsmouth, 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 supplied by Wallis, was in such a dangerous condition that the day after purchase the front passenger wheel fell off as the new driver was driving through Bideford.

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

There was also so much wear in the rear suspension bushes that 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 that the brakes could have failed at any time.

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

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 16 June 2016, His Honour Judge Griggs ruled that Hussey was the main proprietor of the business and was the ‘driving force’ behind it, which was what Trading Standards Officers had believed all along.

The Judge added that Hussey was not a credible witness, that he was ‘entirely satisfied to the criminal standard’ that the business was his and that Hussey made most of the decisions.

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

At the time of pleading guilty he was supplying dangerous and unroadworthy vehicles to further victims who were purchasing from DX Motors Ltd.

His Honour Judge Griggs sentenced Hussey to four months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, as well as 200 hours unpaid community work.  Wallis was sentenced to 150 hours unpaid community work.

In sentencing Judge Griggs said: “t is pure good fortune that there was not a serious road accident as a result of them being on the roads.  The supply of dangerous vehicles is a serious matter and the public expect significant penalties.”

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Member with responsibility Cllr Roger Croadfor Trading Standards said: “We will not tolerate such dangerous trading activity in Devon, and I hope this prosecution highlights how we strive to protect the people of Devon.

Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service will continue to do all they can to protect our residents, particularly the most vulnerable, and safeguard the economic interests of legitimate local businesses from such damaging, unfair trading practices by taking necessary enforcement action.”

Councillor David Hall, Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council and Cllr David HallCabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards said: “‘I’m pleased that Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service have been able to bring this case to Court, which is in large part down to the readiness of several victims to report their complaint and being prepared to give evidence.

“The fact that this is Mr Hussey’s second conviction for supplying dangerous vehicles makes his offences all the more concerning.

“This case is a reminder to us all, in order to avoid experiencing problems buying a used vehicle, I recommend using our Buy With Confidence scheme to find a business that has been vetted and approved by our trading standards team.”

The judge ordered that a financial investigation would be carried out under the Proceeds of Crime Act to determine how much money was available for compensating the victims and paying any confiscation order.

Devon & Somerset Trading Standards Service runs the Buy With Confidence Scheme. The scheme is designed to give customers confidence that they will be treated fairly and legally.

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