'The brakes could have gone at any time. We could have been killed'
A WOMAN was told by a vehicle expert she could have died had she taken a faulty car she had bought from a Hull dealer to Spain.
Sarah Newlove, 28, bought the Citroen Picasso from Premier Hire Cars in May with her then partner Solomon Ojapah.
The couple had planned to start a new life together in Spain last May.
However, after noticing a series of minor problems with the lights and the horn, the couple decided to take it to a garage.
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Miss Newlove, of Sutton, said: "We were driving to London when we noticed several problems.
"We stopped at a garage as we were very worried.
"It turned out the maintenance lights had been taken out to hide the problems.
"An independent assessor looked over the car and told us the ball bearings on the brakes could have gone at any moment.
"He said we could have died if we'd decided to drive it to Spain."
An investigation by Hull City Council's Trading Standards team has resulted in motor trader Christopher Fitzgerald being fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £875 costs by Hull Magistrates' Court last week.
In May, Premier Hire Cars at Lake Enterprise Park in Sutton Fields sold Miss Newlove the second-hand Citroen Picasso car for £800.
She had seen an advert describing it as being in good condition and having a full MoT.
After discovering the series of defects, Miss Newlove approached Fitzgerald.
But Premier Hire Cars refused to allow her to return the car and refund her money.
As a result, she made a complaint to Trading Standards.
An independent motor engineer examined the car and declared it unsafe when it was sold to Miss Newlove.
It was found with a highly corroded brake pipe, excessively worn lower swivel ball joint, inoperative warning instruments and the rear axle was in a dangerous condition.
Trading as Premier Hire Cars, Fitzgerald pleaded guilty under the Road Traffic Act 1988 for supplying an unroadworthy vehicle for use on the road and was fined £1,500.
Mr Fitzgerald also admitted offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations in relation to a misleading advertisement, for which he was fined £1,000, and a further offence under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for trading without a credit licence, for which he was fined £1,000.
He was also ordered to pay a victims' surcharge of £120 and the council was awarded £875 costs.
Miss Newlove, who decided to return to the UK after a brief spell in Spain, says she is glad the matter has been resolved.
She said: "I am relieved it's finally sorted. Trading Standards worked really hard on this.
"We were devastated when we found the car had so many problems as we had used the last of our money for our new life in Spain.
"Premier Hire Cars had a blatant disregard for our safety.
"When we told them what had happened and asked for our money back, the guy just laughed at us.
"I find it really sad that someone can act like this."
Also at Hull Magistrates' Court, Fitzgerald was found guilty of burning controlled waste produced from the business under the Environmental Protection Act and fined £500.