Derby

Glossop classic car restorer defrauded motorists of £82,000

Mini with no doors or windows
Image caption Christopher Handford took money for work on classic cars which was not carried out

A businessman defrauded motorists of more than £82,000 by stripping their classic cars for restoration work then vanishing.

Christopher Handford, 38, took money from 21 victims over several years.

Handford, who ran North West Mini Motors in Glossop, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business and fraudulent trading.

At Manchester's Minshull Street Court, he was handed a two year sentence, suspended for two years.

Image caption Christopher Handford was told he was a victim of his own success and his business spiralled out of control

Judge Maurice Green said: "It's not just a monetary loss to these people - there was great sentimental value.

"These are cherished items. There were a large number of victims over a sustained period of time. You've lost a great deal by committing these offences - monetarily and by the loss of your good name".

But he told Handford, of no fixed address, he didn't present a risk to the public and had been an "honest businessman" before he started to act fraudulently.

Image caption Engines and other car parts were left in the garage when the new owners took over

The court heard he was a victim of his own success and the business spiralled out of control.

By 2014, it became fraudulent and he was taking money - £82,978 in total - from people knowing he couldn't carry out the work.

It is understood there were many more victims and a lot more money involved.

Image caption This car, left in the garage when the new owners took over, was said to have been brought intact by a customer

Will Taylor, who sent a car to Handford, said: "He's kind of got off scott-free and we're all out of pocket and I have a car that's rusting away that I have no money to sort out."

Another victim, Beverley Hulme, said her family had lost more than £7,000 on a car.

She said: "These cars weren't just normal cars. They were our babies. Ours had been in our family for a long time.

"One of the victims, it was his late father's car that he was going to get restored for his wedding. Those kind of things can't ever be re-done."

Handford was also was ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work.

Image caption Bev Hulme said her car had been in the family for more than 40 years

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