EMNETH: 66 year old man in court after MOT fiddle puts lives in jeopardy

PUBLISHED: 18:14 20 July 2009 | UPDATED: 09:10 02 June 2010

POTENTIAL death traps were allowed on the roads because of an MOT fiddle involving a Wisbech man, a court has been told. The 66-year-old tester from Wisbech and a self-employed mechanic, aged 54, from Bishops Stortford were slammed by a judge who imposed

POTENTIAL death traps were allowed on the roads because of an MOT fiddle involving a Wisbech man, a court has been told.

The 66-year-old tester from Wisbech and a self-employed mechanic, aged 54, from Bishops Stortford were slammed by a judge who imposed suspended prison sentences on them.

He said that they of all people should realise the dangers of vehicles not having been properly tested.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told that Eric Swift of Wisbech started manipulating the system because he was "disillusioned" with his employer at MOTs R Us in Harlow.

However, investigations began after a mechanic called Thomas Browne took a car there and although it was unroadworthy after it was "tested" on November 26 last year it received an MOT certificate.

At the time it had excessively corroded brake lines, the exhaust had a major leak and the parking brake had little or no resistance, the court was told.

The judge heard that the owner of MOTs R Us became concerned and installed cctv which helped the police in an investigation to test procedures there.

Swift, 66, of Elmside, Emneth, pleaded guilty to five offences of fraud - making false representations that a legitimate MOT was obtained - and asked for ten other offences to be taken into consideration.

He was sentenced to six months jail on each, concurrent, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 prosecution costs.

Browne, 54, of Elizabeth Road, Bishop's Stortford, pleaded guilty to one joint offence of fraud with Swift and was given three months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 100 hours unpaid work and £500 costs.

It was the first time that either man had appeared before a court.

Judge Charles Gratwicke told them "potential death traps" were allowed on the road, not only for those vehicles' drivers but other members of the public.

Prosecutor Richard Potts said Swift had been employed at the centre for about a year. There were stringent procedures for MOTs but there was a way the computer could be deceived.

Tests took about 45 minutes and Swift would start the process going for customers of mechanics who contacted him without the vehicle being on site as it should be.

"Subsequently the vehicle would usually turn up and a cursory 5-10 minute check on it would be done and Swift would print off a pass certificate for vehicles which had not been tested properly at all," said Mr Potts.

Browne was a self-employed mechanic and had taken a Ford Maverick to Swift for testing.

"He was simply drinking tea with Swift during the time the computer was ostensibly running," said Mr Potts.

He added that the Maverick was not roadworthy.

Gary Ryan, for Swift, said his motivation was that he was disillusioned with his employer. He felt he had reneged on his terms and conditions.

"There was a lack of gratitude, he felt he was working longer hours and had a greater level of responsibility than that initially agreed," said Mr Ryan.

He said there was no suggestion of backhanders though, and the money for the tests was put through the company's books. Swift, who did not make anything out of it had now lost his job and his testing permit.

Sometimes he would pass a vehicle trusting a mechanic to put right minor defects afterwards, said Mr Ryan.

He added that Swift had been married for 50 years and was a grandfather. He and his wife were both in poor health.

David Holborn, for Browne, said the owner of the Ford Maverick still used Browne's services because he trusted him.


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