A horsebox dealer has been given a suspended prison sentence for selling lorries with altered mileage.
Trading as Ascot Horseboxes, Jean Luc Guillambert, of Heasman Close, Newmarket, was sentenced to 10 months, suspended for 18 months, for each of 11 charges of misleading actions under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008.
The 66-year-old had pleaded guilty to the charges, which related to five horseboxes, at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court in December 2016.
Suffolk Trading Standards received a complaint about a lorry that had been sold with 56,000 miles on the clock, supported by an MoT certificate on which the mileage history appeared to confirm this.
When the customer took the vehicle for an MoT nearly a year later, he found the history actually indicated a mileage of at least 125,000, and the MOT certificate he had been given had been altered.
On searching Guillambert’s home, Suffolk Trading Standards officers found evidence of more lorries sold with altered mileage and/or MoT certificates.
A spokesman for the team said: “Altering the mileages led to several issues for consumers – firstly, they had purchased something more expensive than the true value of the vehicle and secondly, when their vehicle was serviced they would not be aware that it potentially needed new parts that would not be expected of a vehicle of a lower mileage.”
Cllr Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, added: “Many horseboxes are converted from ex-commercial vehicles. While many of these are well maintained with regular servicing, it is possible that some may not have been.
“Consumers should ask details of the history of the vehicle – is it an ex commercial vehicle? Do they have any servicing information to go with it? And has the seller done checks on the mileage history?
“Consumers should also carry out checks independently such as HPI checks, which will indicate if there is finance outstanding or whether it has been stolen. This may also flag up any mileage discrepancies. Consumers can also check MoT history at www.gov.uk by putting in the registration number and make.”
Guillambert, who was also ordered to pay £10,000 towards the £18,000 prosecution costs, at his sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court on 3 February, said that of hundreds of horseboxes he had sold, it was only these five on which the mileage was inaccurate.
He said: “But all the customers’ invoices said the mileage wasn’t warranted.
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“As soon as Trading Standards came to me, I contacted the other customers involved and only one accepted the full refund, a year after the sale. I offered them that, a year later, what more could I do?
“The others refused to take the refund, they wanted to keep the lorries, so we agreed compensation and they were happy.”