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Halt Garage trader received a term of 20 months imprisonment

A Hereford car dealer has been jailed for 20 months in a case taken to Worcester Crown Court by Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards team.

Mr Kenneth Leach-Smith (59) from Rose Cottage, Kington traded as Halt Garage on Kings Acre Road, Hereford. Two weeks before the scheduled trial in May, Mr Leach-Smith pleaded guilty to three counts of forging service histories, one count of fraud for falsely claiming a car received a cam belt change and three unfair trading offences for falsely advertising multiple vehicles and selling two cars which had previously been written off. The offences took place between August 2016 and July 2017.

Sentencing took place at Worcester Crown Court on 13 June 2019; His Honour Judge Cole sentenced Mr Leach-Smith to a term of 20 months imprisonment.

The court heard that Trading Standards officers visited Halt Garage in May 2017 after receiving a complaint and discovered a number of forged service records as well as many vehicles being falsely advertised as having full service histories. A thorough investigation followed and found further forgeries, such as the sale of a clocked car and insurance write offs, and false advertising where the trader claimed all cars were HPI clear. Signage displayed around Halt Garage falsely claimed that money was donated to a local children’s charity which was in fact dormant.

The garage has been under reputable new ownership since July 2018.

Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards Manager, David Hough, said:

“This custodial sentence should act as a strong deterrent to anyone in the motor trade who is considering misleading and defrauding customers. We recommend car buyers carry out simple checks on any used vehicle they intend to buy, such as viewing the MOT history on gov.uk which will show the mileages and MOT advisories and failures. Buyers may also consider paying for a history check which will reveal whether a vehicle has been written off, has finance on it and other useful information.”

Citizens Advice offer advice on how to buy a used car and what to do if something goes wrong. Call the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Published: Thursday, 20th June 2019