Biggest law breakers of 2023Biggest law breakers of 2023


Rogue Traders: Meet the motor trade’s biggest law-breakers of 2023

  • We start our features marking the end of 2023 by looking back at the motor trade’s biggest law breakers
  • Offenders range from dodgy dealers to killers and drug lords
  • See our full list of rogue traders below

Time 8:07 am, December 27, 2023

While the majority of used car dealers live good, honest lives, some take a different path which can land them before a court of law.

From dodgy dealers, to drug lords and even killers, Car Dealer has reported on them all over the course of 2023.

To mark the end of the year, we have been taking a look back at some of the worst – and weirdest – offences that have appeared on the Car Dealer website this year.

We used our list of most popular stories of the year to find our list of the most popular, worst offenders – and this is what we found…

Used car salesman who starred on Channel 4 dating show jailed for role in £1.5m heroin ring

Back in January, we reported the story of Joey Shaw, a West Yorkshire car salesman who briefly found fame on Channel 4’s First Dates (below) in 2017.

By the time Shaw appeared on our radar, however, it was for a very different reason as he found himself in very hot water with the law.

The 28-year-old admitted conspiracy to supply both cocaine and heroin as part of a £1.5m drugs ring during a hearing at Bradford Crown Court.

The court heard that Shaw was arrested following a tip off which led police to raid several houses connected to him and his brother Daniel. Once inside, officers found a total of 31kg of heroin and £100,000 in cash.

The car dealer was jailed for six-and-a-half-years, while his brother was handed a ten-and-a-half-year sentence.

Showroom worker faces jail for offences including having sex with a dog

We promised you some weird offences on this list and it doesn’t get much weirder than this story.

In March, we brought you the news that Suzuki showroom worker, Steve Smith was facing jail after admitting getting amorous with a canine companion.

The 40-year-old pleaded guilty to a string of vile sexual offences, including one charge of bestiality.

Smith also had 55 hard-core porn images showing people having intercourse or performing sex acts with animals, Chester Crown Court was told.

He also exposed himself on purpose 11 times in ‘numerous public places’ with the intention of somebody seeing him.

An earlier hearing at magistrates’ court was told Smith carried out a sex act as he was sitting at the unnamed Suzuki dealership in Crewe, where he, two customers and a staff member were there.

Judge Patrick Thompson warned him that there was a ‘very strong prospect of a custodial sentence’ but he eventually avoided time in prison.

The Chester Standard later reported that the ‘depraved’ salesman was given a 22-month sentence, suspended for two years.

Dodgy car dealer avoids jail for selling ‘death trap’ with wheels that could have fallen off at any time

The first case of rogue trading to appear on this year’s list, this story saw Paul Hale, of Kool Kustoms avoid prison by the skin of his teeth.

In April, the 50-year-old was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work for knowingly selling a rust-riddled motorhome.

We reported that he turned a blind eye to a catalogue of faults and converted aVW van into a campervan via his Halesowen-based company.

He then pocketed a cool £8,650 by selling the vehicle in August 2020, putting his customer’s life at risk.

Issues that were known about, but not fixed, included excessive corrosion in several areas, a defective horn and an unsecured gas cylinder, fitted as part of the conversion.

A specialist report later found that its wheel bolts were too short making it ‘extremely likely’ that a wheel would become detached as the van drove along.

Hale was also ordered to repay the entire fee he received and told to cover the prosecution’s £2,500 court costs.

©Dudley Council

Judge jails ‘dishonest’ used car dealer for nearly five years for clocking 33 used cars

One dealer who was not able to stay out of prison was the Fareham-based Ashley Wilson.

The 27-year-old sold 33 used vehicles having deliberately tampered with milometers to display lower mileages as part of a ‘prolonged’ and ‘sophisticated’ campaign of fraud.

He also falsified service histories in an attempt to cover his tracks and sold the vehicles online to legitimate car dealers around the country.

At a sentencing hearing attended by Car Dealer in June, Portsmouth Crown Court was told that Wilson wiped a total of 2.9m miles off 33 used cars.

In an attempt to give context to the vastness of the operation, Judge Richard Shepherd said the figure was ‘enough to get to the moon and back on six occasions’.

The defendant may have avoided jail for the offences had it not been for the fact that he was also on bail for separate fraud charges in relation to a previous company, YouDrive, which was granted by the very same judge.

After hearing all the evidence, Judge Shepherd sentenced the dealer to 45 months in prison for the clocking offences.

He also activated 12 months of his previous suspended sentence, placing Wilson, of Longfield Avenue, behind bars for four years and nine months.

Ashley Wilson, Hampshire Police_PA

Ashley Wilson ©Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary

Dodgy car dealer jailed for nearly three years for selling ‘unroadworthy’ vehicles which left drivers ‘lucky to be alive’

Another dodgy dealer to be put behind bars this year was Mohammed Sajad, who admitted ripping off customers by selling unroadworthy ‘death trap’ vehicles.

The 24-year-old conned 11 different customers out of a combined £58,000 by selling apparently ‘stunning’ cars on a range of online platforms.

In reality, the vehicles weren’t fit for the roads and when repair work was factored in, victims were found to have lost more than £100,000 in the scam.

Birmingham Crown Court heard fears that the victims identified were just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ when it came to the defendant’s offending and that more people may have been impacted.

Judge Tom Rochford was told that one customer was ‘lucky to be alive’ due to a faulty fuel tank that could have blown up at any time.

After hearing all the evidence, he jailed Sajad for two years and 11 months.

‘Shameful’ used car dealer handed 15-year prison sentence for crushing pedestrian to death with his Range Rover

Luke Dann, a used car dealer from Plymouth, will spend the next decade behind bars after being found responsible for the death of pedestrian David Kelly, following a row between the pair earlier this year.

Plymouth Crown Court heard in September, that the 37-year-old used his Range Rover to crush David Kelly before fleeing to a nearby Costa Coffee, where he was arrested.

Despite being cleared of murder by a jury he was unanimously convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Judge Peter Johnson handed down a 15-year prison sentence, telling Dann he will serve two-thirds of it before being released on licence.

The car dealer, who had a string of previous convictions related to his business dealings, was also given a seven-year driving ban as a result of the incident.

Dodgy used car dealer facing jail for selling the same ‘death trap’ Subaru TWICE in two months

Another dodgy dealer up before a judge this year was Steven Hickman, who twice sold a ‘death trap’ Subaru to unsuspecting customers.

The 62-year-old, dealer was convicted of selling the ‘unroadworthy’ Forester in March of last year, via his company Shelby’s of Netherton in the West Midlands.

At that time he was ordered to hand the customer a full £3,500 refund but later transpired that he sold the car again just a month on, having failed to fix any issues.

In September, Dudley Magistrates Court heard that he dealer was ‘willing to sell a death trap’ and had made even more money on the car (£4,300) the second time around.

An independent vehicle expert found that the underneath of the car had been painted in a thin layer of black bitumen in an attempt to conceal high levels of rust.

Hickman was warned that a custodial sentence was likely and set his hearing for October 23. However, his case did not appear on that day’s court list when checked by Car Dealer.

Used car dealer jailed for 12 years as he admits masterminding £7m ‘Deliveroo drugs ring’

The second drugs baron on this list, Robert Fuller used his Norwich used car dealership as an elaborate front for his £7m illegal operation.

The 50-year-old disguised couriers as Deliveroo drivers and used his second-hand car business to launder money and import huge quantities of cocaine and cannabis into the country.

His huge scheme was eventually uncovered when police found encrypted messages relating to the plot, leading the car dealer to flee to Bali in an attempt to evade justice.

Fuller’s exchanges included messages about dressing drug runners in fake Deliveroo outfits to avoid detection as well plans to import liquid cocaine from Peru in jars of asparagus.

He also attempted to buy a Russian Makarov handgun using his handle ‘Quasifighter’ and planned to use recovery trucks from his used car business to move both drugs and cash.

Fuller – dubbed ‘The Drugs Baron Norfolk Broads’ –was eventually captured as he tried to re enter the UK via an Ireland-to-Anglesey ferry in January of last year.

He appeared at Norwich Crown Court in November where he was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for leading the audacious criminal enterprise.

Robert Fuller ©ERSOU

Car dealer who threatened to shoot colleagues during brawl over football sticker avoids jail

Another court case attended by Car Dealer, this unsavoury incident saw a row over a football sticker get way out of hand.

John Thompson punched and shoved two co-workers at a Ron Brooks dealership in Mansfield after an argument over a Liverpool FC stick-on card

The 51-year-old, who worked for the dealer group, hurled abuse at his colleagues, calling them ‘p*****’ and shouting: ‘We will go outside and fight like men. I will smash your f****** head in’.

He then grabbed his boss by the throat before shoving him into some nearby tool lockers and punching him in the mouth.

When five horrified employees stepped in to stop the attack, one was hit in the head by Thompson in the melee, and his glasses were knocked from his face.

Mansfield Magistrates Court was also shown CCTV footage of the defendant attacking his co-workers.

Last month magistrates handed him a 16-week prison term, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to pay his two victims £100 each in compensation.

Former Edwin May worker told to pay car dealer £132,000 after long campaign of fraud

A long running saga, the ongoing legal battle of Norma Smyth finally came to a close earlier this month.

The 48-year-old was jailed for three years back in July after she admitted to stealing £437,824 from Edwin May while working for the firm’s Volkswagen dealership in Limavady, Northern Ireland.

Antrim Crown Court heard that Smyth spent 11-and-a-half years abusing her position of power within the company to steal astronomical amounts of money.

She stole a whopping £437,824 from Edwin May Ltd as well as illegally accessing company accounts to secure herself a further £18,578.86, which she used to pay personal invoices and finance repayments on her car.

On December 7, we reported that in a final hearing, the fraudster was ordered to pay compensation to her former employer.

A judge gave her her six months to pay a £132,047 package to the dealer group or face an extension to her prison sentence.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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