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Jail term likely for convicted clocker

A Northampton businessman found guilty of clocking cars faces a jail sentence and heavy fine after a successful prosecution by local trading standards.

Saad Towpheek Raphael, also known as Steve Raphael, operated two businesses: Steve's Autos, set up in 1992, trades from the Northampton car auction, and HNT Motors, formed in 1996, trades as the Japanese Car Centre in London.

Mr Raphael is expected to continue trading despite the conviction as trading standards officers have no power to close his business.

Northamptonshire County Council trading standards officer David Hedger said: “As far as I am aware, the company is still selling cars.”

Trading standards investigated the history of 33 cars at the two businesses, finding that more than 1.4m miles had been added, following a complaint from a local businessman. Mr Hedger said more cars were being assessed. He expected to find additional examples of car clocking.

“It is too easy to get hold of main dealer stamps by using a business card or genuine service book – printing firms don't ask many questions when making the stamps,” he said.

The Government announced plans last month to stamp out car clocking (AM249) by making mandatory the recording of vehicle mileages on registration documents and during the MoT. However, no timetable has been set for their implementation.

Mr Raphael will be sentenced on January 29. The judge allowed bail on the basis that he put his business activities in order, suggesting a custodial sentence.

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