Individuals responsible for car clocking offences amounting to more than seven million miles have been sentenced, following action taken by Warrington and Halton Councils.
John Murphy, 67, Conwy, Paul Arslanian, 38, Conwy; Christopher Graham Lunt, 39, Long Lane, Chester; Trevor Gareth Jones, 58, Colwyn Bay, and Simon Richard Williams, 49, Fluin Lane, Frodsham, were given sentences for conspiracy to commit fraud.
Sentencing took place at Liverpool Crown Court, with Murphy given three years in prison; Arslanian, two years and three months; Lunt, 20 months; Williams 18 months; and Jones, 15 months.
It follows a three year investigation by Warrington Borough Council and Halton Borough Council’s trading standards – the biggest probe of its kind carried out by the teams.
The defendants, who worked for PCS Events Ltd, a Runcorn-based chauffeur services company, operated a widespread system of clocking the cars in their possession.
Dave Watson, regulatory services manager at Warrington Borough Council, said: “This successful prosecution is down to a meticulous investigation carried out over a number of years by trading standards. No stone was left unturned in building this case, and it shows how trading standards are making a real difference in the fight against fraud.”
Halton Borough Council’s Trading Standards Manager, Deana Perchard, said: “Rogue traders who cause serious detriment to consumers and who use illegal means to gain competitive advantages over legitimate businesses will always be a priority for enforcement action. The sentences issued by the Court reflect the seriousness of the offences and the thoroughness of what was an incredibly complex investigation.”
Warrington and Halton trading standards began investigating in 2013 after receiving information of alleged fraud and consumer protection offences, relating to the turning back of mileages on vehicles obtained by the company.
The defendants sought to profit from the offence through selling vehicles which had previously been on lease hire for chauffeuring purposes. Subsequent sale prices of vehicles sold by the company were inflated, based upon the incorrect mileage reading.
Warrington and Halton trading standards began work on the case while operating as a joint service. Now two separate teams, the councils continued to work together to bring the case to conclusion.
A huge amount of evidence was gathered – including the cross referencing of fuel records for vehicles, examining finance and warranty work records and recording the accounts of people who had purchased ‘clocked’ vehicles supplied by PCS Events Ltd.
It was found that over 100 vehicles had been clocked, with evidence of clocked vehicles dating from 2008 to 2014. The minimum amount of clocking which is believed to have taken place is 7.5 million miles.
As well as gathering evidence against Murphy, Arslanian, Lunt, and Jones for altering the mileage of cars in the possession of PCS Events Ltd, trading standards officers also obtained evidence of links to Williams, who carried out MOT testing of clocked vehicles, producing documents which showed incorrect mileage.