30 November 2001

Clocking case sees Renault dealer jailed for nine months

By Richard Harris

A MACHINERY dealer has been jailed for nine months for "clocking" tractors after the first prosecution of its kind in the country.

Richard Nelles, 43, the official Renault tractor dealer at Penrith, Cumbria, was found guilty of 14 charges brought by trading standards officials after a three-week trial at Carlisle Crown Court.

Five offences involved applying false trade descriptions to second-hand tractors, which the prosecution said involved winding back hour-counters to make the tractors appear to be worth more than they really were.

Six offences included supplying tractors to which false trade descriptions had been applied. Three included obtaining goods by deception. Mr Nelles was cleared of a further eight offences.

Prosecuting counsel Mr Richard Haworth had told the jury: "If he had been genuine, truthful and honest about his dealings, disclosing everything, he would not have got as much money for the tractors he sold."

After the guilty verdicts, defence counsel Mr Richard Woolfall said Mr Nelles had committed the offences "not to live a lavish lifestyle, but to get himself out of a difficult trading position".

Sentencing Mr Nelles, Judge Robert Brown said the offences were aggravated by their number, the amount of money involved – which he put at about £15,000 – and the breach of trust. He ordered Mr Nelles to pay £20,000 costs.

Renault Agriculture said it was "very disappointed" that one of its dealers had been involved in clocking tractors. "The delivery of a high standard of customer service in the region is our priority," said a statement. It added:"We are engaged in active discussion with R&S Nelles and other firms with a view to appointing a new dealer in the area." &#42