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Car dealer panicked when being questioned about £30,000 Ford Focus "fiddle"

A car salesman has admitted lying over a £30,000 Ford Focus he sold but said it was only because he panicked when the buyer started asking questions - as did police.

“I was trying to buy time - it was two weeks from hell,” dealership director James Rodriguez-Lay told a jury at Cardiff Crown Court.

Prosecutors allege he tried to pull off a “fiddle”, advertising the Focus, selling it to another dealer in Essex and then asking for payment to go into his personal account while not delivering the vehicle as promised, reports Wales Online.

His “silent partner” in the Barry business, Redline Vehicle Solutions Ltd, has already told the court how the first he knew of the Focus problem was bailiffs arriving at his door.

Derek Knox said he told them to see Rodriguez-Lay (38) who ran Redline while he was away at sea with the Merchant Navy. He had hoped to get more involved when he retired.

Giving evidence in his own defence on the third day of his trial, Rodriguez-Lay said his partner had “done his bit” keeping the company going.

“Derek is a good man - his input went above and beyond - but the business was going downhill and enough was enough and our relationship broke down,” he told the court.

He said the sale of the Focus for a third party had been “a deal which went sour” but he had never set out to deceive the buyers, Toomey Motors in Basildon, who are still out of pocket.

He had expected the third party to agree the sale for £30,700 and hand over the car for delivery to Essex and accepted he did “string Toomey Motors along”, at one stage even telling them one day that he was on his way, the court heard.

But he said he could no longer get in touch with his seller and the money had already been handed over.

He agreed he had given Redline’s bank details to Toomey’s for payment, and 12 minutes later sent them a second email claiming there was a mistake and giving own personal bank account number instead, the court heard.

But he did that, because he suddenly realised the overdraft in the business account would swallow up a large part of it.

Prosecutor Ieuan Morris suggested: “In that 12 minutes, you suddenly realised you could make thirty grand for yourself.”

The dealer said that wasn’t true and went on to deny that he was “living beyond his means”, paying £1,350-a-month to rent a house in Cog Road, Sully.

“It’s a modest house and I’m a family man,” he told the jury.

“I was just buying time - I was panicking,”

The case continues.

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