Dealership partner speaks at trial.
Byline: Liz Keen firstname.lastname@example.org
THE "silent partner" in a car dealership has told a fraud trial against his director that he found out something was wrong when bailiffs arrived at his door.
Merchant Navy chief engineer Derek Knox said they came to his home in Barry at 7am on a Saturday morning in February, over a debt for a PS30,000 Ford Focus he knew nothing about.
Mr Knox was giving evidence in the trial of James Rodriguez-Lay, who ran Redline Vehicle Solutions Ltd for him, while he was away at sea.
The 38-year-old director from Cog Road, Sully, denies committing fraud by selling the car to a dealer in Essex while failing to hand over the vehicle and having the cash paid into his personal bank account. The vehicle was still in the possession of a Cardiff couple who asked Rodriguez-Lay to sell it for them for PS35,000 when he was paid PS30,700, after advertising it on autotrademail.com, prosecuting counsel Ieuan Morris has alleged.
Mr Knox said he put more than PS100,000 into setting up Redline after meeting Rodriguez-Lay at a garage he used in Penarth.
But by last year, things were not going well and he was having to prop up the business with cash injections, he said.
"I was the silent partner and had eventually intended to take a small, parttime role when I retired," he said. "I was at sea for long periods and left the running of it to him."
The knock at his door came less than two weeks after he returned from a voyage in February 2014, the court heard.
Mr Knox told the court: "The bailiff came at 7am and I phoned him [Rodriguez-Lay] at 9am.
"I wondered why we were buying vehicles because of the financial situation we were in and he said it wasn't a stock purchase - it was sale or return.
"He also said it was a deal which had gone sour and the funds were in the pipeline to pay back the Essex company."
" But a week later, he said, his director phoned, asking to come and see him.He told him "Derek I've ****ed up" and said the money had been paid into the company account but had been swallowed up with an overdraft, a loan and payment for a Range Rover, the court was told.
"I was not aware the PS30,000 had gone into his personal account," Mr Knox said.