9 November 2001

Dealer on trial for tractor clocking

By Richard Harris

A COURT has heard allegations that farmers were conned by a dealer who sold them tractors which had worked more hours than he claimed.

Richard John Nelles, a tractor dealer in Penrith, Cumbria, is alleged to have wound back the hour counters on nine tractors. He wanted to make the tractors appear more valuable than they really were, a jury at Carlisle Crown Court was told on Mon, Nov 5.

Prosecuting counsel Richard Haworth said one tractor which Mr Nelles sold had 2600 hours on the clock, even though it had done at least 5450. One which had done 3999 hours was sold claiming 1500 hours and another which had done 5300 hours had only 2500 on the clock, Mr Haworth said.

"If he had been honest about his dealings, disclosing everything, he would not have got as much money for the tractors he sold."

Mr Nelles has pleaded not guilty to 22 charges brought by Cumbria Trading Standards Department. They include seven charges of applying false trade descriptions to tractors, 10 charges involve supplying tractors to which false trade descriptions had been applied and five charges of obtaining money by deception.

Mr Haworth said the offence of applying a false trade description applied to the act of winding back the hour counter. The offence of supplying covered the way the vehicles were sold on, he added.

"Mr Nelles represented to prospective purchasers that the tractors they were interested in buying had worked for less hours than they actually had. That meant the buyer was led to believe the tractor would have a longer life than it really had and that it was worth more than it really was."

Mr Nelles customers included several from Cumbria, Mr Haworth said, but also some from Leicestershire, Norfolk and the Scottish island of Islay. The trial continues. &#42