A car dealer has been told he faces jail after being convicted of conning thousands of pounds from customers.
Nicholas Morley, who ran dealership NM Jags, said he had no idea why money owed to customers for sale of their cars went missing, reports the Bristol Post.
He told Bristol Crown Court: “Yes, we deferred from paying them, but there was no intention to defraud. I’m certainly not a conman.”
Morley, who ran the dealership NM Jags, and car salesman Michael Horton, were alleged to have conned at least 35 customers out of thousands of pounds by selling cars on “sale or return” but not passing on the money.
Alleged losers in the case received a letter signed by an F J Taylor, saying Morley had suffered a stroke and Taylor was trying to sort out his debts. The prosecution alleged this was yet another delaying tactic.
A jury was told Morley traded under variations of the name NM Jags in Temple Cloud, Gurney Slade, Weston-super- Mare, Hartcliffe and latterly Bristol Road, Whitchurch. His company also had a website called UsedJags.com.
He was made bankrupt in 1991 and 2007, and ended up with £2.1 million of debts, yet has a villa in Tenerife.
The 56-year-old, of Midway in Radstock, denied fraudulent trading from September 2006 to July last year and being engaged in business while bankrupt.
Horton (26) of Bishopsworth, denied fraudulent trading.
The jury, however, unanimously found both men guilty of fraudulent trading.
The jury found Morley guilty of being engaged in business while bankrupt.
Judge Martin Picton adjourned sentence on the pair until March 23.
Releasing them on bail, he told them: “All options will be open including custody.”
Morley admitted that if customers asked for their money his business would “buy time” as the funds would have been used for the running of the business.
He told the court: “It was my life. I’m devastated, absolutely gutted. I lived for that garage. My family lived for the garage. I’m just gutted about it.
“I had no intention to defraud anybody. Michael Horton absolutely had no intention to defraud anybody.
“There was no way we took somebody’s car and had no intention of paying them. It was the largest Jaguar specialist in the south west of England.”
Morley told the court he suffered a serious assault in 2013 – in which he “died” in hospital – but a letter sent out to customers claiming he suffered two strokes was incorrect.
Due to the concerns of the receivers who examined Morley’s accounts and business, in 2011 he had to sign a six-year bankruptcy restriction order promising that he would not, amongst other things, carry on trading in a different name from the one under which he was made bankrupt, without informing people he did business with. The prosecution alleged he breached that.