News item

Ballyclare car trader sentenced

A Ballyclare car dealer has been ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service after admitting a number of offences, including selling a clocked car with a false tax disc.

Belfast Magistrate’s Court heard that James Redpath (37), who traded from Ballynure Road, Ballyclare, posed as a private seller. He advertised and sold a clocked car with a false tax disc and sold two further accident damaged cars.

Redpath was also ordered to pay a total of £2383 in compensation to the consumers involved.

In the case brought by the Trading Standards Service (TSS) of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, James Redpath pleaded guilty to six charges under the Fraud Act 2006 and one charge under the Forgery & Counterfeiting Act 1981. 

A ‘clocked’ car is a vehicle that has had its mileage reading altered to show a lower mileage. The aim of this is to increase the price of the vehicle and make it more attractive to a would-be-purchaser.

This case followed an earlier Trading Standards investigation which resulted in Mr Redpath being convicted, in March 2013, for two offences under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for misleading consumers in relation to the sale of two other cars - one was ‘clocked’ and the other had undisclosed accident damage. 

During the current investigation, TSS discovered that, in 2012, Mr Redpath had purchased a number of cars from a Scottish motor auction. Enquiries into the history of these vehicles led to the discovery that Mr Redpath had acquired a BMW with 176,000 miles on the odometer. He then advertised it and sold it with the odometer reading 85,000 miles. He also altered a tax disc from another vehicle he had purchased and applied it to the BMW thus giving the false impression that the car was properly taxed. 

The second car, an Audi A8 was sold by Mr Redpath, in October 2011. The purchaser discovered, after carrying out an HPI check, that the vehicle had been recorded as a category D insurance loss on two separate occasions. The consumer had not been informed of this fact at any stage of his dealings with Mr Redpath. 

The third car, another BMW, was described by Redpath as being a 2003 car; in “A1 condition” with two previous keepers when in fact it was a 2001 registered car; a Category D insurance write-off and had eight previous keepers. 

Angela Gilliland of the Trading Standards Service said: “The Department views the selling of ‘clocked’ cars as a very serious matter. This is reflected in the fraud charges brought against this trader by the Public Prosecution Service and the severity of the penalty handed down by the court. All second hand car dealers must ensure that they give consumers all the information needed to make an informed decision before a sale. No important information must be hidden or left out. This case should serve as a warning to all second-hand car dealers in Northern Ireland who may be tempted to make a quick profit at the expense of unsuspecting consumers.”

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 www.consumerline.org.

Notes to editors:

1. 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 his actions. 

2. At a Magistrates’ Court a term of up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000 can be imposed for an offence under the Fraud Act.

3. The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act can be used where there is evidence to show that the trader used a document which is, and which he knows or believes to be, false, with the intention of inducing somebody to accept it as genuine.

4. At a Magistrates’ Court a term of up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £5,000 can be imposed for an offence under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.

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

6. 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: 17 June 2014