News item

Ballymena car trader jailed for fraud

In a case brought by the Trading Standards Service of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment Mr. Adrian Hillis who traded as DS Cars, Cullybackey and AA Cars, Warden Street, Ballymena was sentenced today to 14 months imprisonment at Ballymena Magistrates Court for a total of eight offences under the Fraud Act.

This investigation arose from a Trading Standards Enforcement Exercise conducted into Adrian Hillis’s car trading activities. During the course of the exercise two consumer complaints were also received about this trader. The exercise and complaints resulted in the discovery of alleged offences involving four different motor vehicles. It was found that the four vehicles had been “clocked”, in total, by in excess of 320,000 miles. The total loss to the consumers was estimated to be in the region of £2500.

The first vehicle, a Ford Connect van, was sold to a consumer with 94,000 miles on the odometer. Evidence obtained by Trading Standards Service proved that the recorded mileage of the car when it was purchased at an auction by Adrian Hillis was 206,000.

The second car, a Volkswagen Passat, was advertised on a website, in March 2012, and sold to a consumer with 93,000 miles on the odometer. Evidence obtained by Trading Standards Service proved that the car, in July 2010, had travelled some 145,000 miles.
The third car was sold by Adrian Hillis, in July 2012, with an odometer reading 103,000 when in actual fact he bought the car from another car trader a few days earlier with 203,000 miles on the odometer.

The fourth car, an Audi A3 was advertised on a website and subsequently viewed by Trading Standards Officers, on the premises of AA Cars, in October 2012. The recorded mileage was 82,000 miles. Evidence obtained showed the true mileage to be 148,000 miles.

Angela Gilliland from Trading Standards Service commented: “It is seldom the case that we discover a trader who is engaged to such an extent in the sale of “clocked” cars. 

“Two of the consumers attempted to reject the vehicles using their rights under The Sale of Goods Act 1979 but Adrian Hillis refused to take the cars back. This man has been shown to be a prolific car clocker and the type of trader who definitely deserves to be brought before the courts. 

“The penalty in this case should serve as a deterrent to any trader tempted to deceive consumers about the mileage travelled by the cars they are selling. It is ironic that this case was in court during the Trading Standards Institute’s National Consumer Week campaign which urges people buying a used car to ‘check it, don’t regret it’ by assessing whether it is safe, legal and that it is what it seems.”
Anyone who believes they have been sold a car that has been ‘clocked’ or have been misled in any way should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262 or log on to http://www.consumerline.org

Notes to editors:

1. The Trading Standards Service investigates potential criminal offences relating to misdescribed cars. The Fraud Act 2006 can be used where there is evidence to show that the trader deliberately intended to make a gain for himself or a loss to others by clocking or arranging to have a car clocked. 

2. A term of six months imprisonment or a fine of up to £5,000 can be imposed for an offence under the Fraud Act.

3. The Sale of Goods Act 1979 is civil legislation which applies to consumers if they purchase goods that have been misdescribed to them by the seller.

4. The OFT “Guidance for second hand car dealers” is available to download from the OFT website www.oft.gov.uk

5. All media enquiries to DETI Press Office: Tel 028 9052 9604 or e-mail pressoffice@detini.gov.uk. Out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
 
DATE: 11 November 2013