A CAR salesman who “clocked” three vans he was offering for sale narrowly escaped a prison sentence after a court heard he now appears to be trading legitimately.

Abraham Varey, 22, of St Phillips Park, Coundon Grange, Bishop Auckland, a director of AV Van Sales, admitted three counts of fraud for reducing the mileage reading on second-hand vehicles, misleading customers before their sale.

Durham Crown Court heard that the offences took place in 2014 and ’15, but county council officers were able to trace an account back to Varey, as he sold a clocked van through AutoTrader.

The court heard that since the offences took place, Varey received a four-month suspended sentence after receiving £8,000 for a VW Golf but failing to supply the vehicle.

Mohammed Hussein, mitigating, said Varey complied with both community orders he received as part of the original fraud and the latest offences all happened when he was young and naïve in the business.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said Varey had been “inherently dishonest”, but noted he appeared to have matured and traded fairly more recently.

He imposed a 32-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 15 rehabilitation activity days and 180-hours’ unpaid work.

Varey was also ordered to pay £1,111 to the victims of his fraud and £500 costs.