News item

Car dealer prosecuted for selling unroadworthy vehicle

A car dealer who falsely advertised and then sold an unroadworthy car has been prosecuted by Dorset County Council’s trading standards service.

On Tuesday, 8 July, at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court, Simon Bentley (24) of Littledown Avenue, Bournemouth, previously trading as Barrack Road Car Sales, pleaded guilty to one offence of misleading advertising under Consumer Protection Regulations when he stated that the car had one previous keeper from new, when in fact it had had three, and one offence under the Road Traffic Act of selling an unroadworthy car. 

The court heard that the purchaser had bought the car, a Mercedes Benz C180 for £6,500 in August 2013. He later took the car for an oil change and was told that the anti-roll bar, part of the suspension system, had been removed and also that the car had previously been in an accident.  

A complaint was made to Dorset County Council’s trading standards service and officers discovered that that car had been a category D write-off, but had not been properly repaired. Barrack Road Car Sales had instructed an independent garage to remove the anti-roll bar after problems were discovered with it before the sale. An expert vehicle examiner later reported that the suspension problems, taken together, meant that danger was likely to be caused to any person in the vehicle or on the road. Bentley was fined £250 on each of the two offences and ordered to pay compensation of £4,000, costs of £2,564.60 and a victim surcharge of £60.

In mitigation Bentley’s solicitor stated that he apologised and was new to the car trade at the time of the sale, and had since left the car sales business and now worked with his father.  

Martin Thursby, principal trading standards officer for Dorset County Council said:

“We always aim to advise traders on what they need to do to stay within the law, and indeed Mr Bentley had been advised on more than one occasion. However, when traders seek an unfair advantage over legitimate traders, by selling misdescribed and unsafe cars we will always take enforcement action.”

Dorset County Council’s Cabinet for community services, Cllr Colin Jamieson, added:

“Selling a vehicle which is unroadworthy, and misleading the buyer, could have very serious consequences. I hope this prosecution sends out a very clear message to anyone thinking of going down the same path.”

Notes for editors:

1. For further information, please telephone Martin Thursby (principal trading standards officer) on 01305 224478, or Ivan Hancock (trading standards service manager) on 01305 224956. 

2. There is still a business operating at the same premise called Barrack Road Car Sales on Barrack Road, Christchurch. It is not thought to be connected to Bentley.

3. To make a complaint about goods purchased or about a trader believed to be selling unsafe goods consumers can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06. Citizens Advice is the first point of contact for consumer advice and complaints requiring investigation are passed to the trading standards service for action locally. 

4. The county council, through its trading standards service has a duty to enforce the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and may also enforce the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988 with regard to unroadworthy vehicles.

5. More information on Dorset’s trading standards service is available online at . 
DATE: 10 July 2014