A used car salesmen who sold “death traps” despite repeated warnings from Trading Standards has been jailed.
One man who had a Ford Focus bought from Nishar Batha’s Leicester dealership was lucky to avoid serious injury after a piston smashed through the engine block on the M1 two days after being purchased.
The vehicle came to sudden halt, spraying engine oil across the carriageway and causing long delays on the motorway, Leicester Crown Court was told.
Another customer of Batha’s company We Sell Any Vehicle in Woodgate, Leicester, was so worried about the state of the vehicle she took it to Halfords for a check where she was warned it was a “death trap” and would crumple in a collision because the crossbar was broken.
She later sued Batha and won compensation at Leicester County Court.
Both those incidents happened after a stern letter from Trading Standards in May 2017 had warned him about consumer rights and how getting vehicles through their MOT was not enough to ensure they were safe.
And in December 2018 Trading Standards had to issue five notices banning him from advertising or selling five vehicles they had managed to inspect at the site and found to be unroadworthy.
But next time the officers checked, four of the vehicles were still on sale and the fifth had been sold.
Batha, 54, was jailed for 20 months by Judge Robert Brown, who said only an immediate jail term was suitable, since his offending had been “deliberate and persistent” and he had ignored multiple warnings and legal notices issued by Leicester Trading Standards.
The judge described the “very frightening experience” of the Ford Focus driver on the M1.
He said: “Fortunately no one was injured but it’s not an exaggeration to say a vehicle in that condition represented a risk to life and limb.”
The judge said Batha had been “defiant and aggressive” towards customers who complained and that Batha had “no respect at all” for the role of Trading Standards officers in keeping consumers safe.
The court heard that when Trading Standards returned to We Sell Any Vehicle after the M1 incident in May 2019 Batha refused them access, which was an offence in itself but was not one he was charged with, the court heard.
After Trading Standards began the prosecution Batha denied two charges of selling dangerous vehicles and four charges of ignoring safety notices and only changed his plea to guilty after it had been listed for a full trial.
As well as being jailed for 20 months, Batha, of Union Street, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was ordered to pay £37,000 towards the Trading Standards investigation and prosecution costs, while his company, which trades under the name Top Tech Trade Ltd, was fined £500.
Batha was also banned from being a company director in the UK for the next 10 years.
Earlier in the hearing, Batha’s defence barrister, Michael Anning, said that since the offences, which took place in 2018 and 2019, were “isolated” incidents and that Batha had since sold about 2,000 vehicles without any complaints.
But the prosecutor, James Bruce, argued that was not the case – Trading Standards in fact still had an active investigation into Batha’s more recent conduct.
Mr Anning told the court Batha had found himself “considerably overworked” at the time of the offences and that his business was the sole income for him and his wife, who also support two sons in their twenties who are both in full-time education.
He added that We Sell Any Vehicle, which is still trading, also employs nine people.
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