Bogus Gatwick Airport parking service left cars unlocked in open field
Dashcam footage shows a car being driven around eight days before the customer was due to pick it up.
A rogue-trader ran a bogus meet-and-greet car service from Gatwick Airport where many cars were left unlocked in an open field, instead of being parked securely.
At least one of the vehicles left with Park Direct Gatwick Ltd was damaged and dashcam footage proved it had been driven around.
Director of the company Muhammad Muneeb Amjad, 33, of Pycroft Way, London was investigated by West Sussex Trading Standards after it got a tip-off in July 2019.
Officers carried out an unannounced inspection at a field in Ifield and found the gate to the site open and around 200 to 300 vehicles parked closely together, some almost touching, with many vehicles left unlocked.
Details of the vehicles were recorded and letters were sent to the registered keepers, who confirmed they had used Park Direct Gatwick Ltd and believed their cars were parked securely in a locked car park with CCTV.
Trading Standards also received a separate complaint from a customer whose car had been returned with damage which the company had refused to repair or pay for.
She provided dashcam footage to the investigation which showed her car being driven around eight days before she was due to pick it up.
Park Direct Gatwick Ltd went into liquidation but Amjad, the director, was prosecuted under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for engaging in misleading commercial practices.
He appeared at Lewes Crown Court on 6 May and was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months and told to complete a ten-day rehabilitation course and undertake 60 hours of unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay compensation to seven victims totalling £1,141 and costs of £1,200.
Amjad had pleaded guilty to engaging in misleading commercial practices at an earlier court hearing.
Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards team manager, said: “Despite being previously warned about this activity, Mr Amjad’s company continued to mislead passengers into believing their vehicles were secure, when in fact they were left unlocked in a field that anyone could access.
"I would like to thank the customers for coming forward and helping to bring him to justice.”
Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support Fire and Rescue, said: “The outcome of this investigation should serve as a stark warning to all dishonest traders: we will find out what you are up to and we will take action against you.”
Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of an unfair trading practice, should contact West Sussex Trading Standards or Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133.