A SECOND-HAND car dealer conned customers by clocking vehicles to reduce readings by a total of more than 400,000 miles, a court heard.
Nicholas Jukes is accused of duping a string of customers at his business – Fareham Fleet and Finance Ltd in Fleet End Road, Warsash.
Allegations against Jukes came to light after a customer complained that he believed the odometer – which records the number of miles a vehicle has travelled – on a Vauxhall Astra Merit he bought from Jukes’ car dealership had been clocked.
Trading standards experts from Hampshire County Council launched an investigation into the claims.
Jukes was later arrested and questioned by police.
The 44-year-old was charged with 13 crimes relating to the alleged clocking of seven cars that are said to have taken place over a 12-month period.
Prosecutor Tim Moores told a 12-strong jury at Portsmouth Crown Court: ‘We are concerned with cars.
‘We are concerned with a practice which colloquially goes and has gone for many years by the name of clocking, that is the alleged tampering with the odometer recording on a car.’
He added: ‘We are concerned with the sale of second-hand motor vehicles by Mr Jukes to members of the public.
‘He was, during 2008 and 2009, trading as a second-hand car dealer.
‘He had on the books a limited company called Fareham Fleet and Finance Ltd.
‘He was effectively the sole trader of that limited company.’
The cars that are alleged to have been clocked were all sold between June 2008 and June 2009.
Jukes is accused of selling the vehicles with a total combined mileage of 505,500 – when the real readings should have read at least 909,594, a difference of 404,094 miles.
Mr Moores said: ‘There are legitimate reasons why mileometers may not be displaying the accurate mileage of a vehicle, for example it may be that a speedometer has to be changed at some time.
‘What we are saying in this case, is that the evidence very strongly suggests the reason why the mileage is not accurate is that it has been deliberately altered.
‘The reasons for deliberately altering it and reducing it and reducing the mileage is fairly evident, it makes the vehicle perhaps more attractive to the buyer , more likely to sell, more likely, perhaps to attract a higher price to purchase.’
Jukes, from Bentham Way, Swanwick, denies 13 charges in relation to ‘clocking’.
Six counts are of fraud by making a false representation.
Seven charges are allegations of engaging in a commercial practice which was misleading under the Consumer Protection for Unfair Trading Regulations.