Compass Mobility directors found guilty of conspiracy to defraud

Two company directors of a mobility aid firm have been convicted of a £1 million scam following an investigation triggered by a blind pensioner.

Andrew Watkinson, 50, of Chesterfield, and Timothy Leonard Herbert Wright, 46, of Sponden will be sentenced next month after they were found guilty on four accounts of conspiracy to defraud.

The former directors of Compass Mobility Limited Vincent sold mobility aids to elderly, infirm and vulnerable people. Pensioners in there 80s and 90s, including one woman approaching her 100th birthday, were targeted.

The rogue bosses sold a motorised scooter to a blind, epileptic man and an inflatable bath lift to a blind woman who could not operate it.

In a bid to maximise sales, the pair would also sign people up to finance agreements, which were unaffordable, and then refuse to cancel them, claiming it was too late even when customers did not know that they were entering into such an arrangement.

In 2007 a joint operation was launched by York, East Midlands Police and Trading Standards officers and uncovered hundreds of complaints against the firm relating to goods valued at more than £1 million.

Complaints were logged by the company and made known to the directors who generally ignored them. Many of the complaints were received after the pair had been arrested.

A fellow director, John Alexander Higginson, 63, earlier pleaded guilty to a range of offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. He will also be sentenced next month.

The directors will now be subject to an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Any assets acquired through criminal conduct will be seized

David Collinson, chair of the National Trading Standards Board, said: It is totally unacceptable that any business should seek to exploit vulnerable people in our communities. Consumers and carers should heed the warning arising from this investigation. Don’t be bullied into buying something you don’t need – be prepared to say no.”

Colin Rumford, head of public protection at City of York Council and spokesperson for Yorkshire and the Humber Trading Standards Scambuster Team, said: “These crimes were not committed by ‘rogue’ members of the sales team. The sales practices were embedded in the company’s procedures and training regimes and several former members of staff provided evidence to trading standards detailing these practices.”

By Waithera Junghae.

Image credit: This is Derbyshire.