Dodgy car seller caught ‘winding back’ odometers

A GOLD COAST man performed the modern version of "winding back" the odometer on four cars to make more cash on the sale of the second-hand ­vehicles.

Simon Michael Birch, 51, pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court yesterday to four counts of false representations about mileage.

He was fined $17,000 - about the same profit he made from selling the four cars between December 2017 and May last year.

Prosecutor Andrew Blain said Birch used his de facto partner's motor dealer's licence to buy the cars at a wholesaler auction.

Simon Michael Birch faked odometer readings on four cars, making them appear to have travelled less kilometres.
Simon Michael Birch faked odometer readings on four cars, making them appear to have travelled less kilometres.

He would then take them to his Paradise Point home and make the modifications.

"In the old days they would have wound the odometer back manually," he said.

 

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"Now they pull the dash out, get a spare one from a wrecker of a similar make car and screw that back in."

After making the modifications, Birch would advertise the cars for private sale on various websites.

On one of the cars - a Nissan Navara - Birch changed the odometer enough so it appeared the car had done 190,000km less than it had. The other three cars were BMWs.

Mr Blain said Birch would only have each car for about 21 days before selling it for an average profit of more than $4000. The court was told his total profit was $17,775.

Magistrate Andrew Sinclair said "quite significant" winding back of the clock occurred.

The odometers were ‘wound back’ by replacing parts on the dashboard.
The odometers were ‘wound back’ by replacing parts on the dashboard.

"The owners of these vehicles will inevitably have greater mechanical costs," he said.

"People will be unable to accurately work out when they should get work done."

Mr Sinclair said one of the vehicles had done more than 317,000km in less than 10 years but Birch had made it look like it had done just more than 120,000km.

He fined Birch $17,000 to ensure he made no profit from the vehicle sales. Mr Sinclair also took into account Birch's early guilty plea and recorded no conviction.

Defence lawyer Michael Gatenby, of Gatenby Criminal Lawyers, said each of the cars was sold with a roadworthy certificate.

"It was simply that he misrepresented the kilometres and that heavily benefited himself," he said.

Mr Gatenby said Birch, a former jet ski salesman, was remorseful.

He said for the first car, the cluster for the odometer needed to be replaced and he didn't tell the buyer. The court was told after that Birch saw the opportunity to "slightly inflate" the value of other vehicles.


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