Clocking car dealer jailed for 21 months

Time 8:45 am, August 13, 2014

scales-of-justice-gavel_4A CAR dealer who clocked cars and then re-sold them on eBay has been jailed.

Stephen Appleton, 45, from St Helens, Merseyside, acquired stock from car auctions and then tampered with their mileages. Then, using different user accounts, would re-sell them to unsuspecting buyers on eBay.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Nicola Miles, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court: ‘It is believed he ran his business in this manner to ensure he could not easily be contacted by dissatisfied customers.’

And it was one of those dissatisfied customers who contacted Trading Standards that led St Helens council to investigate Appleton’s house on Medowcroft, St Helens.

Investigators found forged stamps to create false service histories to back up the tampered mileages.

The court heard that in one instance a BMW Z4 was sold as having 54,000 miles on the clock but in actual fact it had covered nearly 149,000 miles. Another car, an Audi A4, had covered 133,000 miles but its odometer read 52,000. That customer complained and was given their money back but Appleton later re-advertised it.

Appleton initially denied selling clocked cars but later changed his plea to guilty to 17 counts of fraud as well as possessing articles for use in fraud and making those articles.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that three and half year fraud cost buyers just shy of £30,000.

Thomas Fitzpatrick, defending, said: ‘While this period of offending has spanned the dates it has there would be a dispute to any suggestion that all he does is sell dodgy motors. There are people who purchase cars off him who are quite happy and that they have come back to him.’

Judge Thomas Teague, QC, who jailed Appleton for 21 months, said: ‘You appear to have regarded your customers as fair game in the sense that they knew or ought to have known that mileage could not be guaranteed. That is a cheek coming from someone who has gone to such considerable lengths to misrepresent that mileage to customers.

‘You seem to have regarded the law in this area as a series of irksome regulations when in truth they are not just rules but basic ethical truths that everybody knows. On one occasion you had the brass neck to advertise a vehicle after you had been arrested and interviewed.’


James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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