Axminster garage fined for selling unsafe vehicles

Court hears how one car’s front brakes were “completely worn out”

AN Axminster garage which sold a car with “completely worn out” brakes has been fined �15,000 for misleading customers.

Candlemine Shute Ltd, trading as Devon Trade Centre, and its former director appeared in court for supplying misdescribed and unroadworthy vehicles.

The case followed an investigation by Devon County Council’s Trading Standards Service.

In addition to the fine Exeter Crown Court ordered the company, based near Shute, to pay �14,500 costs to Devon County Council.

Alex James Ward, the company’s director, who left earlier this year, had previously pleaded guilty to a total of eight charges in relation to the supply of misdescribed vehicles, five of which were on behalf of Candlemine Shute Ltd, trading as Devon Trade Centre. He was ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work for the community.

The court heard that on examination two of the vehicles were found to be unroadworthy, one of which had front brakes that were ‘completely worn out’. A third vehicle had been misdescribed as having travelled 30 000 miles when it had actually travelled in excess of 80,000 miles.

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The Court also ordered the company to pay full compensation to the three victims, totalling �5,500

The case was brought by Devon County Council’s Trading Standards Service after a long and detailed investigation into the three vehicles following a number of complaints from residents about the company.

In all three cases the company failed to rectify the complaints made to them before trading standards became involved.

The court also heard that in August 2009 the company were convicted of offences under the same legislation for using misleadingly low prices on vehicles offered for sale on its website and for failing to disclose the addition of an administration fee to customers.

The Company’s representatives said at the hearing that it now intends to work with Devon County Council’s Trading Standards Service to improve its business practices.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards said: “Businesses must ensure that when they sell a vehicle, it is accurately described and in a roadworthy condition.

“The actions of this company were well below acceptable standards of business conduct.

“They put the safety of the driver and other road users at great risk and undermine the reputation of local car dealers who trade honestly and legally.

“Our Trading Standards Service will continue to take firm action in such cases to protect the interests of the public and responsible Devon businesses.”

* Anyone considering buying a second-hand vehicle can get a copy of Devon County Council’s Trading Standards Service guide for first time buyers, called ‘Motorwise’, directly from or by calling 01392 381 381.