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Dublin car dealer avoids jail for selling crashed cars to customers

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Brian Fassnidge
Brian Fassnidge

A Dublin car dealer has been spared a six-month jail sentence and was fined €4,000 for selling two previously crashed vehicles.

Father-of-four Brian Fassnidge (38), formerly operating at Motorcity Naas Rd, Dublin 22, was prosecuted on four offences under consumer protection legislation in relation to two cars which were not roadworthy.

One had been written-off during a serious accident and had ended up in a salvage yard before the car dealer sold it with an assurance it had never been crashed.

He was convicted under the Consumer Protection Act 2007 of misleading consumers in relation to the sale of crashed cars. He was also found guilty of breaching the General Products Safety Directive of supplying a dangerous product, the first conviction under that directive.

His conviction is a result of a prosecution brought by the then National Consumer Agency, now called the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

Judge John O'Neill heard today at Dublin District Court that Fassnidge has paid back €14,750 to the two customers and has lost his business.

Evelyn Galvin, an authorised officer with the CCPC, told prosecution counsel Carl Hanahoe BL that the first buyer purchased a car for €2,500 in January 2012. He was told it was fully serviced and given an NCT guarantee.

Ms Galvin agreed with counsel that the Hyundai car began to give trouble and in February 2012 it was examined by an expert who “came to the conclusion the vehicle had been crashed and repaired”. The expert who examined it “condemned the vehicle” and had “described how he became trapped in the vehicle”.

In May 2012 another customer bought a '10 -reg Skoda Octavia for about €12,000. Fassnidge “explicitly referred to him that the vehicle had not been crashed and repaired”.

Afterwards the car buyer became concerned and got the Octavia examined by a motor assessor who also condemned the vehicle and stated it was not roadworthy. The chassis had been “significantly damaged and not repaired correctly”.

Both his customers tried to engage with him “but were given the long finger, the run-around”. Eventually they had to engage a solicitor and also contacted the consumer watchdog.

Their investigation revealed that the Octavia had been involved in a “significant accident and had been written-off, and had been transferred through various salvage yards”, the court was told. It had 65,000 kilometres on the clock but when sold by Fassnidge this had been reduced to 33,000 kilometres.

Counsel defending told the court that Fassnidge had lost his business as a result of adverse publicity from the prosecution and he complied  with the court's order to refund the two consumers.

The court was asked to note he had been in the trade since childhood and first started working with his father who had until the 1980s one of the biggest car dealerships in Europe.

He was working as a car salesman since he was aged 12 and had no prior criminal convictions, the judge was told in pleas for leniency.

Judge O'Neill noted the mitigation pleas but said: “I cannot overlook the individuals who relied on Mr Fassnidge to be honest with them, and truthful and be honourable with them. They were parting with their hard-earned money and depended on Mr Fassnidge to be honest with them”.

He convicted him and ordered that the fine must be paid within six months or Fassnidge would be jailed for 14 days in default. He must also pay the prosecution costs of €10,000 as well as €500 to each of the two car buyers for consequential costs they incurred.