Dealer sold faulty cars from Huntingdonshire forecourts in order to ‘pay debt to friend’

Cambridge Crown Court

Cambridge Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A car dealer who claimed he was forced to sell written-off and damaged vehicles in order to clear a debt has escaped jail.

Stuart Pearson sold the vehicles at Brampton Specialist Cars and later SJ Autos, in Huntingdon, between March 2014 and September 2015 in order to pay back a loan to a friend.

Over an 18-month period, Pearson sold cars to nine victims knowing that they were faulty, earning £74,985 in the process.

Appearing at Cambridge Crown Court on July 14, Pearson claimed that the cars were supplied to him by a friend called Tony who had previously given him a £10,000 loan to start up Brampton Specialist Cars, but had also begun to sell cars through the garage.

“The first batch of cars we didn’t have a problem with, things seemed to be ok, seemed to be running fine and we didn’t have any comebacks for a while,” Pearson told the court.

Charles Snelling, prosecuting, said that in total, Tony brought 20 cars into the business and the number of complaints began to rise. One of Pearson’s victims was a 69-year-old woman who was sold a Ford Fiesta that had previously been written off. When she realised, she contacted Pearson 30 times for a refund.

Mr Snelling added that in some of the incidents Pearson would sell a vehicle, then it would be returned to be fixed due to faults and he would go on to sell the vehicle again.

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Pearson, of Kettering, in Northamptonshire, told the court that he felt “trapped” and couldn’t go to the police because Tony was a “violent” and “persuasive” man.

He said: “I was probably a little bit naïve, I didn’t know how to deal with him. I didn’t want to get myself into further trouble.”

The 38-year-old pleaded guilty to 14 counts of fraud by false representation and a further charge of possessing an article for use in fraud.

Jacqui Callan, in mitigation, said that Pearson’s actions were the only way he could see out of clearing the debt he owed Tony.

“He fully accepts that he has wheeled and dealed and tried to rob Peter to pay Paul,” Ms Callan said.

She added that Pearson has already paid some of the money back to the victims and hoped to pay the rest through starting a new business.

In sentencing, Recorder Sandeep Kainth handed Pearson a 22-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered him to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.