Melksham car trader in fraud case promises to pay off debt
9:55am Saturday 19th October 2013 in News
Motor trader Miles Eglin who bounced cheques on a car auctioneer has promised to pay back what he owes.
Eglin made the pledge after a judge at Swindon Crown Court imposed a suspended sentence for the fraud.
The 45-year-old of Shaw Hill, Melksham, insisted he would try and get the £52,923 he owed after twice handing over cheques knowing there was not enough in the account to settle them.
Speaking outside the court he said: "It was a massive mistake. I am looking to try and pay the money back."
Colin Meeke, prosecuting, said Eglin had been a car dealer for many years and a customer Aston Barclay Westbury for 15 years.
He became trusted by Barry Watts, the group operations director at the firm, and was allowed to buy on credit and take the cars before his cheques had cleared.
Despite trading under a variety of names, there had never been a problem until the summer of last year when the bank stopped honouring his cheques.
Mr Watts made contact with him but was give a number of excuses, including that he was seriously ill.
Arrangements were made to collect the funds, and Mr Watts even visited his home, but he could not get hold of him and the account was not settled.
Mr Meeke said two large cheques finally arrived, both of which bounced, leaving the total of £52,923 outstanding and the police were called in.
Eglin pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud.
Although four cheques failed to clear, prosecutors accepted the defendant had hoped the first two would be honoured by the bank.
Chris Smyth, defending, said the total amount lost was the same, regardless of the number of cheques which did not clear.
He said his client had been going through a number of problems at the time of the offending including the break down of his marriage.
In the past he said his client's car trade had a turnover of about £11m and he would often buy cars and sell them on the same day at a very small profit.
"He told me of one occasion where he bought a Ferrari for £47,000 in the morning selling it for £47,700 in the afternoon, so a profit of £700," he said.
But his business hit problems after he decided to build his own home and he then had matrimonial and health problems.
The house, thought to be worth in the region of £700,000, has mortgages of £550,000 which are £47,000 in arrears and other charges on it.
Mr Smyth said it was hoped the property, along with about £21,000 from his pension, could be used to settle the debt to the auction house.
"Mr Elgin may be a good car salesman but I don't think he would say he was a particularly organised man and I don't think he realised quite how much he depended on his wife, not just in the home but organising in his business," he said.
"At a desperate ebb he wrote two cheques in order to try and cover his own back."
Passing sentence Recorder Michael Vere-Hodge QC said: "You must accept it was extremely bad judgement and you departed from your usual high standards and it was dishonest.
"What you were doing was no doubt trying to rob Peter to pay Paul and no doubt a little bit of ducking and diving in the car trade. That seems to be perfectly clear."
He imposed a six month jail term suspended for a year and told him to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will be held in February when a ruling will be made on compensation after Eglin's finances have been examined.