A director of a Leyland-based luxury horsebox manufacturer has narrowly missed out on jail after his company admitted selling clocked HGVs to other traders and members of the public.
J&J Wood Limited and co-founder, James Wood, were sentenced on Friday, April 20, at Preston Crown Court in a case brought by Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards Service.
The court was told that, during a 16 month period in 2008-9, 21 Leyland DAF HGVs were sold after miles had been taken off the meter – the majority to unwitting local businesses for conversion into high-spec horseboxes, which were then sold on to customers throughout the country.
Others were sold directly to traders to use in their businesses.
Trading Standards calculate that, in all, almost 1.5 million miles were wiped clean, resulting in a profit of more than £35,000 to the company.
Each truck had at least 100,000 miles on the clock, but some were showing more than 300,000.
The trucks were stripped down to their cabs and chassis before being sold on.
In one case more than 197,000 miles had been taken off the odometer prior to sale.
The court heard that clocked vehicles were easier to sell, one lorry taking just six days to buy, clock and resell for a £750 profit.
In another case, a six-year-old truck saw its value increase by nearly 400% more than the company had paid for it.
Pleading guilty to 32 offences and asking the court to take a further 18 offences into consideration, J&J Wood was described as a company whose “excellent national reputation” was now tarnished.
As a result of the investigation, turnover at the company, which employs ten people, had taken a significant downturn.
Sentencing J&J Wood Ltd, His Honour Judge Byrne imposed fines of £40,000 with an order to pay court costs of £8,330.
James Wood, with whose knowledge, approval or consent the offences were said to have been committed, was handed a 39-week suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out 50 hours’ unpaid community work and pay costs of £7,000.
Personal assets, valued at £123,000, were forfeited to the court out of which compensation of £32,790 will be paid.
Speaking after the hearing, Paul Noone, head of Lancashire County Council Trading Standards, said: “This is a very significant result at a time when consumers and honest businesses most need protection.
“This conviction sends out a clear message that fraudulent trading will not be tolerated and that offenders can expect to be dealt with quickly and severely.”