Jail for bankrupt car dealer who left customers across the country £35,000 out of pocket

PUBLISHED: 08:22 24 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:22 24 January 2018

Richard Palmer, who ran Hammond Autos Ltd in Newmarket, has been jailed for four years. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

Richard Palmer, who ran Hammond Autos Ltd in Newmarket, has been jailed for four years. Picture: SUFFOLK POLICE

Archant

A bankrupt used car dealer who left more than 30 customers £35,000 out of pocket has been jailed for four years.

Richard Palmer, who ran Hammond Autos Ltd in Newmarket, pocketed customer deposits and sold the same car to more than one customer, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Customers who paid in full were given excuses about why their cars hadn’t been delivered and why their money couldn’t be refunded, said Christopher Kerr, prosecuting.

In January 2014, following a visit from Trading Standards officers as a result of complaints, Palmer resigned as sole director of the company and was replaced by his wife, although he continued to operate the business.

In April 2014 he received a letter from Trading Standards after further complaints were received and in March 2015 Trading Standards officers and police went to the Newmarket premises with a search warrant.

Palmer pretended to be an employee but was caught out when one of the officers called his mobile and it rang in his pocket.

Mr Kerr said victims of Palmer’s fraudulent trading came from up and down the country as a result of him advertising cars on eBay.

“They were fobbed off with lies and excuses as to why cars couldn’t be delivered and had wasted trips to Newmarket as well as repeated promises to repay them,” said Mr Kerr.

Palmer, 51, of Bury Farm, Great Canfield, Dunmow, admitted acting as a director of a company while bankrupt, obtaining credit and attempting to obtain credit as a bankrupt, fraud by false representation and fraudulent trading. The court heard that his benefit from offending was £55,000 but as he has no assets a nominal £1 confiscation order was made. He was disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.

The court heard that Palmer was made bankrupt in 2003 and 2007 and had obtained loans for thousands of pounds without declaring he was bankrupt.

In June 2015 “realising the game was up” with Hammond Autos Ltd he had used the alternative trading name of SKW Cars.

Frank Harris said Palmer’s financial problems had spiralled out of control and he had “robbed Peter to pay Paul”.

He said Palmer’s business hadn’t been a sham company from the outset and some customers were given their cars or refunds if they “complained enough”.

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