Rogue trader Lee Noble pays back £20k to quad bike scam victims
A ROGUE trader has paid back more than £20,000 to the victims of his quad bike scam.
Lee Noble took thousands of pounds from customers but never delivered the quad bikes they had ordered.
A judge ordered Noble, 49, to repay all of his victims or face jail when he appeared before Hull Crown Court last year.
Noble, of Wray Close, Beverley, has now escaped a prison sentence after the court was told he had paid back a total of more than £20,000 to all but one of his victims.
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He has been given six months to repay the final £2,470 to one victim, who came forward after seeing a report about the scam in the Mail.
The Honorary Recorder of Hull and the East Riding, Judge Michael Mettyear, told Noble: "I am pleased you have done the things I asked you to do. I am glad I gave you that chance.
"You are very lucky. You need to stay out of trouble, otherwise next time you might not be so lucky."
East Riding Council's trading standards department began an investigation after receiving complaints from across the country in ten months about Noble's business, HQC Engineering.
Officers discovered he had taken £21,350 from customers over two years. He pleaded guilty to fraud and breaches of consumer protection regulations.
Hull Crown Court heard Noble used a company called Quadzilla to purchase quad bikes and would sell them on through the internet and his business's Cottingham base.
However, in 2009, the business fell into difficulty and Quadzilla refused to honour any more orders when Noble's cheques bounced.
Noble continued to take orders and cash for bikes from customers, despite being unable to obtain them.
When they questioned him, Noble would provide excuses about why they had not received the bikes.
The court was told Noble had a previous conviction for a similar scam.
He also set up a fake business claiming he was a specialist in repairing classic American cars, leaving one customer with a car that blew up after Noble claimed to have repaired it.
His barrister Wendy Foster said: "He was told to repay the money and stay out of trouble when he appeared in court in October.
"He had already repaid a substantial amount then and has since repaid everyone else.
"He will also need to compensate the victim who came forward since the reporting of this case."
Judge Mettyear sentenced Noble to a community order, including 100 hours of unpaid work.
Councillor Jane Evison, cabinet portfolio holder for rural issues and cultural services at East Riding Council, said: "This prosecution shows trading standards will pursue those rogue traders who deliberately defraud the public and will make them face the full force of the law."