Devon car dealer guilty of misleading customers

A Devon car dealer has admitted misleading customers about the road worthiness and mileage of the vehicles he was selling.

Alex Ward, 32, from Axminster, pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court to eight charges relating to the supply of mis-described vehicles.

Two of the cars his company sold were found to be unroadworthy, one with "completely worn out" front brakes.

The case was adjourned until the end of May for sentencing.

Five of the charges Ward pleaded guilty to were on behalf of the Axminster-based company Candlemine Shute Ltd, trading as Devon Trade Centre.

Mr Ward is a director of the company.

'Dangerous and unroadworthy'

The company said it would not comment until the case was concluded.

The case was brought by Devon Trading Standards, which launched an investigation after receiving complaints from customers.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council cabinet member for Trading Standards, said: "The actions of this company were well below acceptable standards of business conduct.

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

One customer complained after buying a Peugeot 306 from Devon Trade Centre after passing her driving test.

The vehicle soon started to display faults and an inspection found it to have an "excessively worn" rear suspension that rendered it in a "dangerous and unroadworthy" state, Devon Trading Standards said.

Another customer bought a VW Passat which was described as having 30,000 miles on the clock when, in fact, it had done more than 80,000 miles.

The customer was told that the low mileage was because the car had been used by an "elderly gentleman", the previous owner had actually been a 22-year-old man.

The third complaint involved the sale of a Land Rover Freelander which was found to have "excessively worn" brakes and deemed to be in a "dangerous and unroadworthy" state.

Devon Trading Standards said that in all three cases the company failed to rectify the complaints made before it became involved.

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