Used car salesman jailed after turning to life of crime in order to fund £400-a-day cocaine habit

  • Used car salesman jailed for four years after long-running crime spree
  • Raymond Ashton stole his company car after losing job at Motor Match in Staffordshire
  • He later posed as a customer to steal vehicles from other dealers
  • Court hears that defendant was acting in order to pay for a £400 a day cocaine addiction

Time 11:18 am, February 13, 2024

With a six figure salary, happy family life and comfortable ‘middle class’ lifestyle, the future once seemed bright for car salesman Raymond Ashton.

However, he has now been put behind bars after turning to a life of crime in order to fund a £400 a day cocaine habit which left him lucky to be alive.

The 40-year-old previously worked as a sales executive Motor Match in Staffordshire but when the pandemic struck, his life began to slide.

Lockdown saw him slump into heavier drug use and his addiction continued until well after restrictions were lifted.

He eventually lost his job in March 2022, sparking a crime spree which saw him steal his company car in a bid to pay for his drug use.

He later posed as a customer to steal vehicles from other dealerships and even dressed as a police officer in order to burgle a house.

Eventually, real law enforcement officers were able to track him down and he has now appeared at Stoke on Trent Crown Court (pictured), where he was jailed for four years.

The court heard that after losing his job, Ashton told his former employer that his father had died and that was the reason his grey Peugeot 308 had not been returned.

However, bosses later discovered this was a lie after visiting his home and speaking to his wife, the Stoke Sentinel reports.

In a police interview, Ashton later claimed he had parked the car in the Burslem area of Stoke-on-Trent and it had been stolen.

The truth was that the former car dealer himself was regularly stealing in order to fund his expensive cocaine issue.

On January 9, 2023, he posed as a customer asking to take a Ford Mondeo for a test drive from Lawson Motor Company.

After a salesman agreed to let him drive the car for ‘five or ten minutes’, Ashton took the £9,900 vehicle and never returned.

He pulled a similar stunt on March 12, when he stole an Audi from George Rhodes and Sons Limited, which was never recovered.

Buoyed by his success, he then stole a £17,000 Seat Leon from Bravoauto’s Fenton branch on April 4 and made off with a Ford Focus, also valued at £17,000, from a local Bristol Street Motors dealership on May 21.

Interspersed with the car thefts, Ashton also stole the contents of a lorry’s cabin, while the driver was making a delivery.

He and a female associate also posed as police officers to gain access to a woman’s home, before stealing her phone, which they then used to make purchases totalling £849.

Speaking in court, Ashton’s lawyers said he felt ‘shame’ for his actions and had since got clean.

Syed Ahmed, mitigating, said: ‘There is shame as well as remorse. These actions are completely out of character.

‘Prior to lockdown he was a normal family man. Covid struck. He found himself without employment. He turned to drugs.

‘He recognises he should not have done that. That addiction took hold of him. He has now kicked the habit and is completely clean.’

Addressing Ashton at the end of the hearing, the judge told the defendant ‘it is a wonder you are still alive’.

Recorder Robert Smith said: ‘Yours is a very tragic story. You were a highly-respected car salesman at a reputable local dealership earning a six figure salary, living a comfortable, almost middle class, life with your partner.

‘When covid hit you were left without a job and a purpose in life. Your mental health deteriorated.

‘For 10 years you had used cocaine recreationally. There is no such thing as the recreational use of class A drugs, only the harmful and damaging use of class A drugs.

‘Your cocaine use spiralled. You told the author of the report you were using up to £400 a day of cocaine. That is a prodigious amount. Frankly it is a wonder you are still alive.’

Anyone working in the motor trade who is struggling with their mental health can get help from Ben, the industry charity.

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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