A trader from Newmarket received a suspended sentence at Ipswich Crown Court for selling horseboxes with altered mileage.
Trading as Ascot Horseboxes, Jean Luc Guillambert, of Heasman Close, Newmarket, was sentenced to 10 months for each of his 11 offences of misleading actions under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008, suspended for 18 months.
The 66-year-old was also ordered to pay costs of £10,000.
Guillambert pleaded guilty at Ipswich Magistrates Court in December following the charges, which relate to five separate horseboxes.
Suffolk Trading Standards received a complaint about a horse lorry that had been sold with 56,000 miles on the odometer which was supported by an MOT certificate where the mileage history seemed to confirm this.
When the consumer went to take the vehicle for an MOT nearly a year later, they discovered the mileage history actually indicated a mileage of at least 125,000 and that the MOT certificate he had been given had been altered.
After executing a warrant at Guillambert’s home address, Suffolk Trading Standards officers obtained evidence of more horseboxes sold with altered mileages and/or altered MOT certificates.
Trading Standards officers worked in conjunction with officers at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to look at the true MOT histories of the vehicles as well as with Suffolk police to execute the warrant.
Altering the mileages of the horseboxes lead 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.
In addition, some horse insurance policies may factor the mileage of the vehicle into insurance quotes which could lead to difficulties for the consumers in the event of a claim.
Cllr Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Environment and Public Protection, said: “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 check may also flag up any mileage discrepancies. Consumers can also check the MOT history of the vehicle on www.gov.uk by putting in the registration number and make.
“This will give details of when MOTs have been done and what mileages have been recorded at the time.
“My thanks go to Suffolk Trading Standards for investigating this case and successfully prosecuting Guillambert, who was deliberately deceiving buyers of his vehicles.”