Car clocker jailed for 12 months

A ROGUE trader has been jailed for 12 months after he was found to have wiped enough miles off the clocks of second-hand cars to travel to the moon and halfway back.

A ROGUE trader has been jailed for 12 months after he was found to have wiped enough miles off the clocks of second-hand cars to travel to the moon and halfway back.

Karl Baxter, who ran H & K Autos at Papermill Lane, Bramford, with his wife Helen, was told by a judge that he was “exactly the kind of second-hand car dealer who gave honest traders a bad name”.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that the fraudulent enterprise operated from April 2003 to April 2004. During that time 15 cars were clocked and 370,000 miles wiped out, resulting in an overall loss to the duped buying public of £30,000 and an increase in profit to Baxter on the sale of the cars of £14,500.

On one occasion 60,000 miles were removed from a car that had driven 168,000 miles, said Matthew McNiff prosecuting.

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He said that once the car mileages had been altered, Baxter and his wife would set about securing the all-important supporting documentation which would offer legitimacy to what they were doing.

“They would secure MoT certificates which bore the newly-reduced mileage and they would produce service histories which purported to confirm the newly-reduced mileage and then sales invoices which would again confirm those details,” said Mr McNiff.

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Karl Baxter, 40, of Hilton Road, Ipswich, admitted 21 charges of obtaining property by deception while his 28-year-old wife of the same address admitted four similar charges.

He also pleaded guilty to four charges of using false documents while Mrs Baxter admitted one similar charge. Karl Baxter also admitted two charges of obtaining a money transfer by deception.

Jailing Karl Baxter to a 12-month prison sentence Judge Peter Thompson said: “This was not a case of a one-off piece of dishonesty to get you over a difficult period. This was plainly a system repeated over and over again and you misled customers in a calculating way.”

Ordering Helen Baxter to carry out a 150-hour community service order, Judge Thompson said she had been involved in providing false documents for five cars.

He said the couple had not made a fortune out of their fraudulent conduct and he accepted that genuine MoT tests had been carried out on the vehicles to make sure they were safe.

David Holborn, for Karl Baxter, said that although the prosecution placed the loss to the public at £30,000 the actual loss was much less as the figure did not take into account the value of the cars.

He said that genuine MoTs had been carried out on the vehicles and safety was not an issue in the case.

Mr Holborn said the Baxters had continued to trade and there had been no further problems.

“It would be very surprising if trading standards weren't keeping an eye on them. Whatever happened, it isn't being repeated,” he said.

He said that Baxter had got himself into financial difficulties and had chosen the option of cheating. He said a custodial sentence would bring the couple's business to an end.

Samantha Leigh, for Helen Baxter, said she had been under enormous strain during the proceedings and had suffered a miscarriage. “She is extremely anxious about what is going to happen to her,” she said.

The court heard that Mrs Baxter had no previous convictions.

Speaking after the case Steve Greenfield, trading standards officer for Suffolk, said: “The punishments given today send out a clear message that trading illegally will not be tolerated. These unscrupulous traders have to be caught.”

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