Carmarthenshire County Council’s Trading Standards team have successfully pursued a prosecution against the officers of NRJ Motor Company for mis-selling a car as being in an ‘excellent condition’, when in fact it was in a dangerous and unroadworthy state.
On 22 June 2023 David Bonner-Evans, Susan Bonner-Evans and James Bonner-Evans pleaded guilty to engaging in a commercial practice which was misleading, contrary to regulations 9 and 13 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and supplying a product which they knew or should have known to be dangerous, contrary to regulations 8(1)(a) and 20(1) of the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
In May 2022, a 22-year-old student, purchased a Fiat Punto from NRJ Motor Company. The Fiat Punto was advertised as being ‘very well maintained’ and would include a ‘brand new service’. The advert claimed that NRJ Motor Company was an ‘AA Trusted dealership’ and a ‘family business with over 40 years’ experience’. It also stated that the vehicle had last received an MOT on 19 December 2021, had been serviced in February 2022 and was described as being in an ‘excellent condition’.
An additional advert on the car reiterated that the vehicle had a ‘brand new service’, ‘free warranty’ and ‘one year’s AA breakdown cover’.
Before purchasing the car and having taken the vehicle for a test drive, the customer was informed by the salesman, who identified himself as the owner of the company, that the car was in ‘excellent condition’ and said that it had only one owner and was very well maintained. He had said that the car had relatively very low mileage, was cheap to tax and excellent on fuel. The co-owner of the business told her that the car had a current MOT and service, and these documents were in the car.
However, in the first week of June 2022, it became apparent that the car had significant problems. The airbag warning light on the dashboard had come on and the motor of the window on the driver’s side had failed and the back wheel kept deflating every few days.
NRJ Motor Company agreed to take the car in for repairs, with the window being repaired, and the business stating that there was nothing wrong with the airbag, but the warning light remained on.
On 8 July 2022, the tyre on the back passenger side of the car burst whilst the vehicle was being driven. On 11 July, having replaced the tyre, the young student heard a very loud clanging noise whilst driving. On inspecting the car, her father noticed that there was a serious problem with the rear passenger wheel and told her not to drive the car.
Despite the 1-year warranty on the car, David Bonner-Evans of NRJ Motor Company refused to collect the car or rectify the problems.
The student and her parents then contacted Carmarthenshire County Council’s Trading Standards Team, who appointed an expert to inspect the car. A detailed examination revealed a particularly serious fault with a corroded rear axle, making the vehicle not only unroadworthy but dangerous.
The judge stressed the offence was extremely serious and could have caused an extremely serious accident.
A number of additional problems that would render the vehicle unroadworthy and attract failure notices during an MOT were also found.
Following the guilty plea, David Bonner-Evans, Susan Bonner-Evans and James Bonner-Evans were sentenced to a fine of £1500 each, costs in total of £6678.60 with one third to pay each, £1760.75 compensation to the victim, and £150 surcharge.
Cllr. Aled Vaughan Owen, Cabinet Lead for Trading Standards said: “The outcome of this case could have been tragic as the vehicle that was sold to the victim by David Bonner-Evans, Susan Bonner-Evans and James Bonner-Evans was not fit to be on the road.
“I would like to thank our Trading Standards Team for holding these people to account and bringing them to justice.”