A FORMER car dealer has been jailed for 20 months following a Trading Standards investigation.

The former owner of Halt Garage, Kings Acre Road, Kenneth Leach-Smith, 59, of Rose Cottage, Kington, was taken to court by Herefordshire Council's Trading Standards team.

Two weeks before the scheduled trial in May, Leach-Smith pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery, one count of fraud, and three unfair trading offences.

The offences took place between August 2016 and July 2017.

His Honour Judge Cole sentenced Leach-Smith to a term of 20 months imprisonment on June 13.

Worcester Crown Court heard that Trading Standards officers visited Halt Garage in May 2017 after receiving a complaint and discovered a number of forged service records as well as many vehicles being falsely advertised as having full service histories.

A thorough investigation followed and found further forgeries, including the sale of a clocked car and insurance write offs, and false advertising where the trader claimed all cars were HPI clear.

Signage displayed around Halt Garage falsely claimed that money was donated to a local children’s charity which was in fact dormant.

Leach-Smith is no longer associated with the garage, which has been under reputable new ownership since July 2018.

Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards Manager, David Hough, said: “This custodial sentence should act as a strong deterrent to anyone in the motor trade who is considering misleading and defrauding customers.

"We recommend car buyers carry out simple checks on any used vehicle they intend to buy, such as viewing the MOT history on gov.uk which will show the mileages and MOT advisories and failures.

"Buyers may also consider paying for a history check which will reveal whether a vehicle has been written off, has finance on it and other useful information.”