Individuals responsible for car clocking offences amounting to more than seven million miles have been successfully prosecuted.
John Murphy, 67, from Conwy; Paul Arslanian, 38, from Conwy; Christopher Graham Lunt, 39, of Long Lane, Chester; Trevor Gareth Jones, 58, from Colwyn Bay, and Simon Richard Williams, 49, Fluin Lane, in Frodsham have all been found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud at Chester Crown Court.
It follows a three-year trading standards investigation by Warrington Borough Council and Halton Borough Council – the biggest probe of its kind carried out by them.
The defendants, who work for PCS Events a Runcorn-based chauffeur services company, were found guilty of operating a widespread system of clocking the cars in their possession.
Warrington and Halton trading standards began investigating in 2013 after receiving information of alleged fraud and consumer protection offences, relating to the turning back of mileages on vehicles obtained by the company.
The defendants sought to profit from the offence as vehicles which were subsequently sold had their sale prices inflated based upon the incorrect mileage reading.
Warrington and Halton trading standards began work on the case while operating as a joint service. Although now two separate teams, the councils have continued to work together to bring the case to conclusion.
A huge amount of evidence was gathered – including the cross-referencing of fuel records for vehicles, examining finance and warranty work records and recording the accounts of people who had bought ‘clocked’ vehicles.
It was found that more than 100 vehicles had been clocked, with evidence of clocked vehicles dating from 2008 to 2014. The minimum amount of clocking which is believed to have taken place is 7.5 million miles.
As well as gathering evidence against Murphy, Arslanian, Lunt, and Jones for altering the mileage of cars in the possession of PCS Events, the investigation by trading standards officers also revealed links to Williams, who carried out MOT testing of clocked vehicles, producing documents which showed incorrect mileage.
Automotive data experts, Cap HPI played a significant role in the investigation. Barry Shorto, head of industry relations at Cap HPI, said: “There is a clear message to clockers – it’s only a matter of time before they are caught and brought to justice. This operation forms part of HPI’s commitment to its campaign against clocking, as well as raising awareness of the value of its National Mileage Register.”
Seven individuals were prosecuted for conspiracy to commit fraud in the case. All pleaded not guilty, with Lunt subsequently changing his plea to guilty. Two of the defendants, Laura Jayne Murphy of Long Lane, Chester and Kevin Paul Batty of Sutton in Craven, North Yorkshire, were acquitted of the charges.
The jury reached a verdict following a six-week trial. Sentencing is scheduled for March 17 at Liverpool Crown Court.