An Aberdare garage prosecuted by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Trading Standards officers for trying to sell vehicles in a “dangerous and un-roadworthy state” has lost its appeal against the sentence.
Merthyr Crown Court heard the appeal of “Mr Auto” of Canal Road, Cwmbach. The company originally pleaded guilty to two offences under the General Project Safety Regulations Act 2005 at Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court in June 2013.
At that hearing the Court was told five vehicles were examined at the garage and two cars were found to be in a dangerous and un-roadworthy state. A Mini Cooper had a front nearside tyre which was damaged and had a tread depth below the legal minimum of 1.6mm, and a Renault Clio had missing and non-operational seat belts.
At the original hearing the solicitor for Mr. Auto Limited pleaded guilty to two offences in regard to the defects found on the two vehicles. The company was fined £2,000 for each vehicle, plus £500 towards costs and a £200 victim surcharge.
However the company appealed against the original fines, claiming they were excessive in relation to both offences. The defence barrister said the company was not aware of the missing seat belt as there had been thefts on the lot and the belt was replaced on the following day.
For the offence relating to the Mini Cooper, they claimed the tyre deflated an hour before the inspection so it was replaced with a bald tyre whilst the initial tyre was being replaced and would have been changed afterwards.
The company claimed the cars would not have been sold without rectification and appealed against the fines at a time when they were operating at a loss, although they had assets.
Judge Michael Powell dismissed the appeal and ordered the company to pay a further £1,303 to cover the costs incurred on Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Trading Standards for the appeal. He went on to explain that the trader had “not told the truth and used excuses which are incredible and idiotic.”
Given that Mr Auto had been convicted twice before, Judge Powell said the company had “not learnt a lesson” from those previous convictions and felt the fines imposed were appropriate.
David Jones, Head of Community Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “Car dealers have an exceptional duty of care to their customers and road users.
“The consequences of them failing to ensure that the cars they sell are safe could result in potentially fatal road traffic accidents - they must ensure the vehicles they sell are safe.
“We will continue our work to detect traders who are not taking their responsibilities seriously. This will include our proactive, annual forecourt survey to check the standards of vehicles being offered for sale.”