Leicester men sentenced for selling dangerous vehicles
Three Leicester men have been sentenced to a total of five and half years in prison at Leicester Crown Court Friday 3 November for selling defective, unroadworthy and dangerous vehicles to customers from across the East Midlands.
The men ran various second-hand car dealerships from a site in Leicester since 2010.
Paul Hanna, 51 of Braunstone Close, received a three and half year prison sentence for four fraudulent trading offences and was ordered to pay £69,000 in compensation to victims.
Jignesh Manani, 33 of Collette Road, received a two-year sentence for two fraudulent trading offences, and Justin John, 33 of Boulter Crescent, received 120 hours of unpaid work for one fraudulent trading offence.
The investigation was led by the National Trading Standards East Midlands Regional Investigations Team hosted by Nottinghamshire County Council following over 300 complaints.
The used cars were sold from 391 Abbey Lane, Leicester, which was the base for different trading companies including Affordable Used Cars Ltd, Car Shop Leicester Ltd, Abbey Car Sales Limited, QUILTY and Car Shop Leicester Limited since 2010.
All of the three defendants were directors of some of these companies during this period.
Complaints made about the cars included perished tyres, leaking fuel and front seat belts that would not fasten. The court heard that many of the faults were present before the cars were sold and were either unknown or ignored by company staff.
When customers raised concerns about the vehicles they were either ignored or told the vehicle was in good order, and there is only one known case where a victim received a partial refund.
The vehicles were also advertised on websites such as Autotrader and Gumtree and sales staff offered and sold warranties which were worthless.
The court heard that a car auctioneer account connected to the businesses purchased a total of 734 vehicles costing £1.38m to sell at the site.
Kulbeer Gahir, 33, from Wigston, Leicester, purchased a Ford Fiesta from the garage in 2013.
He said: “My father-in-law was ill in hospital and we urgently needed a car to visit him and this car seemed right for us. There were a few outstanding problems which the garage promised to fix, which they didn’t. They insisted we pay cash as they claimed their card machine was broken.
“A few miles down the road after leaving the garage the car started to make a rattling noise and the car broke down after we took it back to the garage. We were told it was our fault and it was not their responsibility. The warranty we purchased was worthless as they said the responsibility was with the garage at that early stage.
“I tried to appeal to their better nature and even asked for a replacement car of similar value. We sought independent advice on the car which found various problems including a blown exhaust and the head gasket needing replacing. The repairs cost almost £1,100 and we ended up selling it a year later at a huge loss.
“The stress of the experience was huge at a difficult time and I’m lot more thorough when buying a car now. I would encourage people to make sure they have everything in writing before purchasing a car and go to a dealer on recommendation.”
Jason Cudworth, 47 from Beeston, exchanged his Land Rover for a Renault Megane estate from the garage nearly two years ago. He said: “I needed a car that was cheaper to get to work and found this car on an internet site.
“I was told by the garage the cam belt sensor didn’t work and they would fix it, which they didn’t. They kept pushing me to fill out paperwork before I agreed to buy and I didn’t get a test drive as I was told there were too many other cars in the way.
“There was no power when I drove the car home and when I tried to get them to look at it there was excuse after excuse.
“I’ve been left thousands of pounds out of pocket and have been unable to use the car, which meant I lost a month and a half’s pay. I’ve had to borrow money off my sister to buy another car which I am still paying off.
“These traders were out to rip people off and I‘m absolutely gutted I didn’t spot this. They are the lowest of the low and don’t care about the stress and financial loss they create.“
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: “The work of these men was both illegal and dangerous. When buying a car, people should be able to trust that the seller is being honest about its history and ultimately, that they are buying a vehicle that is safe for them and their family. These criminals were dishonest, calculated and put lives at risk across the country.”
Councillor Gordon Wheeler, Vice-Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities and Place Committee, said: “These traders have not only broken the law by selling large numbers of cars that are unroadworthy, they have also put the lives of the buyers, their families and other road users at tremendous risk.
“The numbers of complaints and evidence of vehicles that were purchased to sell at this site show that many people have been left out of pocket due to this dangerous operation.
“We advise people to seek recommendations from friends and family on reputable car dealers and check the trader is signed up to a known code of practice.”
Ronald Ruddock Trading Standards manager for Leicester City Council said: "We were pleased to be able to refer this matter to the regional investigation team and to support them in bringing these offenders to justice.
“We hope that the sentence passed will serve as a deterrent to other business who are failing to comply with their legal obligations."
For advice on consumer rights or to report a dealer selling unroadworthy cars contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506.