‘Appalling’ car conversion left Rugby man with a dangerous vehicle

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A car conversion company have been fined after leaving a Rugby man’s car dangerous and unroadworthy.

Car Conversion, a company which tried to convert a Mercedes from right-hand to left-hand drive but instead left the car dangerous and unroadworthy, was ordered to pay £1,155 in prosecution costs and £5,000 compensation after an investigation by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Service and Havering Trading Standards Service.

In court, magistrates said that the vehicle, which was so badly damaged that it was ‘beyond economical repair’, with estimated repair costs to be £11,700 plus extras, posed a ‘very high risk of injury’ and called the case ‘appalling’.

Among the many modifications were changes to the car’s internal wiring and fuse box creating a fire risk, alterations to the chassis which compromised its structural integrity and the removal of the brake and fuel lines from the bulk head clipping creating the potential for a brake failure and/or a fuel leak. The strength of the brake pedal had also been compromised and changes made to the steering idler and poor welding made the vehicle unroadworthy.

A Rugby man approached Car Conversion, located in the London Borough of Havering, in April 2011 to have his car converted from right hand drive to left hand drive for use in Spain where he had a holiday property.

The man received a quote of £3,500 to carry out the work and paid Clifford Appiah, owner of Car Conversion £2,950 before taking the vehicle to Appiah’s Noak Hill-based premises.

After numerous phone calls and attempts at contacting Appiah, the man was finally told that his vehicle was ready for collection on Monday 7 January 2012, some nine months after initial contact.

On collection it quickly became apparent that the vehicle had significant damage.

The Rugby man contacted Warwickshire Trading Standards who began an investigation with their Havering colleagues.

A vehicle expert examined the car and identified 14 faults that when combined made the vehicle dangerous to drive and ‘beyond economical repair’.

At Romford Magistrates Court on September 6 2013, Car Conversion, owned by Clifford Appiah, 49, of Bryant Row, Cummings Hall Lane, Noak Hill, Romford, was ordered to pay £1,155 in prosecution costs and £5,000 compensation.

Appiah was also given an 18-month conditional discharge.

Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, Cllr Les Caborn said: “It is completely unacceptable for garages to place unroadworthy cars on the road, threatening the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike.”

“We will continue to take against rogue garages in support of motorists.”