A CAR dealer and his company must pay out more than £17,000 for selling unsafe cars and making a false statement about an MOT pass.
William Howlin, also known as Billy Howlin, who trades as Motec Autos (Pembrokeshire) Ltd from Shipmans Lane, Haverfordwest, pleaded guilty to five offences at the town’s magistrates’ court.
The case, brought by Pembrokeshire County Council’s trading standards team, was instigated by a consumer complaint from a 22-year old man who bought a second-hand Mazda MX-5 from the garage in February 2018.
The car was sold by Howlin, who had also personally MOT tested the car the day before it was picked up by the consumer, with a ‘no advisories’ pass recorded.
Shortly after buying the car, though, the consumer took the car to another local garage to have the car checked over and was told it was unsafe and too dangerous to drive. The garage owner who raised the alarm stated that the Mazda was not only beyond mechanical repair, but that it was in the worst mechanical condition he had ever seen in a vehicle that had just passed its MOT test, let alone one that had no advisories.
The Mazda was subsequently examined by inspectors from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), an independent consultant engineer and an expert witness on behalf of Pembrokeshire County Council’s trading standards department.
The expert engineer determined the vehicle to be dangerous and unroadworthy owing to the condition of the offside rear suspension components and the compromised structural integrity.
He said the degree of advanced corrosion deterioration on the components and vehicle structure supported his determination that the vehicle was in a dangerous and unroadworthy condition at the time of sale and supply.
He added that the Mazda was a danger to both user and other road users, and that the black underseal had been freshly applied in an attempt to conceal the extent of the corrosion. The buyer was subsequently refunded the unspecified sum by Motec.
Further inquiries by trading standards officials, though, revealed that it wasn’t the first time that Motec had sold the same car in an unsafe condition.
It had previously sold the same Mazda MX-5 in August 2017 to another consumer, who was similarly told by another independent garage that it was too unsafe to drive. After threatening to involve trading standards and the DVSA, he had been given a refund by Motec.
Because of concerns about the condition of cars being supplied by Motec Autos, a safety inspection of other second-hand cars offered for sale on the forecourt was carried out at the garage. Six cars were examined by Pembrokeshire trading standards officials, again working with an expert vehicle engineer, and three of the cars had withdrawal notices issued under the General Product Safety Regulations placed on them, preventing their sale owing to various safety issues that were discovered by the engineer.
Howlin, 64, whose address is given on the Companies House website as Withybush Road, Haverfordwest, pleaded guilty to two offences of Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations offences, two General Product Safety Regulations offences – relating to the Mazda and a Vauxhall Corsa – and one offence of fraud by false representation.
He was fined a total of £3,000 and Motec Autos was fined a total of £8,000. In addition, prosecution costs of £6,090 were awarded to the county council and a surcharge of £270 was ordered to be paid, making a total of £17,360. Howlin was also ordered to perform 150 hours of unpaid community service in respect of the fraud conviction.
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