A car dealer who sold a vehicle which had been written off twice without telling the unsuspecting buyer has been convicted of misleading consumers.
Anthony McConkey, who owned Quay MOT in Hebburn, before being made bankrupt, sold a Volkswagen Polo to a woman in April 2013 which, magistrates heard, had been subject to two Category C insurance losses.
Category C means the vehicle was extensively damaged, but classed as repairable.
The customer asked another garage for a quote for a trade-in over a year later and was told that the car she had paid £1,660 for was worth just £300.
McConkey, 38, of Durham Drive, Jarrow, denied three counts of engaging in a commercial practice which was misleading, but was found guilty after a trial at Sunderland Magistrates Court.
Two of the charges related to misleading adverts on the company’s website and in a trade magazine, and the third related to the sale of the vehicle
The defendant has had the honesty to tell me about four similar cases, drawn to his attention which led to him sacking the manager, and this demonstrates amply that the system was not enough to ensure the documentation was competedDistrict Judge Roger Elsey
Jim Wotherspoon, prosecuting on behalf of Sunderland City Council trading standards, said it was not the first time the firm had been in trouble.
He said that, in 2012, an officer from South Tyneside trading standards officers visited McConkey to remind him of his obligations.
He said the buyer of the Polo had noticed the rear wiper was missing and was told the car had had a “slight bump”, but that, had she known the car was classed as a Category C write off, she would not had bought it.
McConkey said the car had been priced correctly for a write-off, and that the equivalent undamaged car at the time would have been worth up to £3,000.
McConkey said he had put a system of paperwork in place to ensure consumers were properly informed of insurance write-offs, and blamed a manager in charge at the time for the problems, saying he had sacked him after a further four similar incidents. Mr Wotherspoon said Quay MOT had been visited by and written to by trading standards officers on several occasions after the complaint had been made.
However, no response was received and McConkey did not attend any interviews as requested.
McConkey said he had other things on his mind at the time due to bankruptcy proceedings
District Judge Roger Elsey said that Mr McConkey had not, as a director of the company at the time, exercised due diligence.
“I fully accept that the defendant placed substantial responsibility on the manager,” the judge said.
“But there was clearly no system in place to ensure the paperwork was filled in. The defendant has had the honesty to tell me about four similar cases, drawn to his attention which led to him sacking the manager, and this demonstrates amply that the system was not enough to ensure the documentation was competed.”
Judge Elsey said his hands were tied in regard to the amount of compensation, due to McConkey being a discharged bankrupt.
“There is, of course, the possibility of a civil case,” he added. “Although I will award some compensation, it is not intended to be the full amount.”
McConkey was also ordered to pay £200 to the victim and was handed a 12-month conditional discharge, with £250 costs.