Used car dealer Richard Burbage has been sentenced to six years in jail after he was found guilty of swindling hundreds of customers of his various businesses.
The notorious Hampshire car dealer was found guilty of five counts of fraudulent trading after a jury at Salisbury Crown Court deliberated for three-and-a-half days over the outcome of a month-long court case last month.
Earlier in the proceedings jurors had been told how a sample of just 17 vehicles traded by the 44-year-old of Poplar Way, Hedge End, were found to have had over a million miles wiped off their odometers.
Hampshire Trading Standards' investigation, which followed an independent investigation by the Sourthern Daily Echo, also uncovered evidence of Burbage’s operations having given false descriptions of vehicles, failing to deliver vehicles, forging vehicle documents, falsifying warranties and failing to give refunds.
Trading Standards launched their investigation into Burbage’s Woolston Car Supermarket in 2013 after receiving hundreds of complaints about Burbage and his associate Stan Rudgley, who pleaded guilty to his involvement in fraudulent trading.
Together the pair were found to be behind five other businesses: Hampshire Vehicle Sales, Woolston Car Supermarket, Service 4 Life, Deltaflag, and Swiftbird.
The Daily Echo reported that customers had been confronted by “pushy” salesmen whose “lies and misrepresentations” had amounted to fraud.
Addressing Burbage in court, Judge Andrew Barnett said: “You have been convicted on five counts of fraudulent trading.
“They are very serious, and there is a great deal of money involved and a great deal of misery for the public.”
Rudgley was sentenced to three years and four months in jail for his part in the used car operation.
He and Burbage were also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120 each.
Two co-defendants, Ryan Overton and Darryl Warren were acquitted and found not guilty of all charges.
The Daily Echo’s investigation into Burbage uncovered horror stories from numerous former customers and the publication itself was exposed to threats.
Its investigation uncovered evidence that Burbage had moved to Britain from Australia after a dealership he operated there failed, allegedly owing more than £6m.