Suspended sentence for car salesman who sold ‘clocked’ car

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A Ballymena car salesman who sold a ‘clocked’ car has been given a suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay £800 compensation.

District Judge Des Perry said that Anthony Kinney’s actions had been “nasty” and had preyed on the “vulnerability” of people buying cars.

Kinney (26), of Dunvale, had pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud by false representation following an incident in July 2013.

Ballymena Magistrates Court heard that the case came about following a complaint by an individual who alleged that an Audi A4 car sold to him by Kinney, a salesman employed by SDK Motors, Moorfields Road, Ballymena, had been ‘clocked’.

The court heard that the individual had purchased the car from these premises in August 2013.

A subsequent investigation revealed that the car, which was sold to the consumer by Kinney with 113,000 miles, had actually travelled in excess of 157,000 miles when it was sold - a difference in value of approximately £800.

Kinney stated that he had changed the odometer in the car and admitted selling the car to a consumer without telling him that the mileage reading was incorrect.

He also failed to mention the fact that he was not selling the car on behalf of SDK Motors and that it was actually a “private” sale sold from the premises without his employer’s knowledge.

Kinney’s barrister Andrew Moriarty said his client had co-operated fully with Probation and had been given a “clean bill of health”.

He added that Kinney had since sought to obtain an HGV licence in a bid to get employment.

“This is someone who has seen the error of his ways,” Mr Moriarty said.

He added that Kinney had £400 with him to lodge with the court to pay the injured party back.

District Judge Perry said he had a “particular dislike” for car dealers who clocked cars.

“Clocking cars is a really nasty offence,” Mr Perry said.

He added: “People who are buying cars are very vulnerable and have no way of checking a car has been clocked.”

Kinney was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for three years.

He was also ordered to pay £800 restitution.

Mr Perry added: “I want to make sure this person at least gets something back.”

Angela Gilliland, of the Trading Standards Service, said: “The Department views the clocking and selling of ‘clocked’ cars very seriously indeed and we will not hesitate in bringing those responsible before the courts. Anyone who knowingly sells a car with incorrect mileage on the odometer and fails to disclose this may face court action for fraud offences. This applies to both car dealers and private individuals.”

Trading Standards offers the following advice when buying a used car:

· Buy from a reputable dealer: Vehicles may cost more when bought from a main dealer but they will have carried out checks on the vehicle’s history before offering cars for sale.

· Bring someone with you who is knowledgeable regarding cars: Excessive wear and tear on the driver’s seat, steering wheel and foot pedals may be inconsistent with the indicated mileage.

· Ensure that you see all of the relevant original paperwork: The logbook, the car’s service history and MOT certificates. With this information, you can contact the previous owners of the vehicle as well as the garages that carried out the servicing work to ask questions about the history of the vehicle. Everything should be present and correct. If it is not, simply walk away from the deal.

· Carry out an online vehicle mileage and accident check before you buy the car.

· If you know the registration and chassis numbers of a vehicle, you can contact the Driver Vehicle Agency to enquire about the recorded mileage of the vehicle at its previous MOTs. The chassis number is visible on the bottom left corner of most car windscreens.

· If buying from a “private” seller, get proof of the seller’s name and address.

· Finally, never buy a car from the side of a road and never pay cash to somebody you don’t know