Lincoln Crown Court: Classic Jaguar car dealer is jailed over restoration fraud
A multi-millionaire Jaguar vehicle enthusiast was conned by a car salesman who sold him a rare E-Type sports car, a court was told.
Scott Shearman paid almost £130,000 to buy the vehicle from Scott Nicolson’s company and to have it restored.
The car was manufactured in 1961 — the first year that Jaguar produced the E-Type — and was to be part of a display Mr Shearman planned for Wappenbury Hall, the former home of Jaguar Cars founder Sir William Lyons.
The vehicle was one of 30 bought by Mr Shearman but within weeks of him paying for it Nicolson’s Barbary Hill Ltd company went into administration and he lost out heavily.
Joey Kwong, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court: “The business would source, purchase and restore classic Jaguar motor vehicles for their customers, including sourcing and importing from the US. Nicolson would have custody and possession of the cars while their owners paid him to restore their vehicles.”
Mr Kwong said Nicolson sourced a rare 1961 Jaguar E-Type from the US, which Mr Shearman paid £129,993 for in October 2018 — only for Barbary Hill to then go into administration.
Mr Kwong said “The financial impact has been a sore point as the cars he was buying would have been renovated. He was out of pocket by at least £150,000."
Another client bought nine Jaguars as an investment for his pension. He paid £98,150 to buy one of the vehicles and have it restored but Nicolson subsequently sold it without permission and it was exported to Portugal.
A third client handed over a £50,000 deposit for the purchase and restoration of a classic Jaguar, intended as a Christmas present. He received photos showing how the car was being restored but, in the weeks before Barbary Hill went under, he struggled to make contact with Nicolson.
Nicolson, 45, of Warren Lane, Witham St Hughs, also persuaded DPM Finance Ltd, a small investment company, to spend £100,000 on a classic car which was to be “flipped” within three months for a quick profit. Nicolson lied when the finance company began asking for their money and they lost their cash causing a rift amongst the directors.
Nicolson’s world eventually came crashing down in early December 2018 when Barbary Hill went into administration.
The subsequent investigation revealed that Nicolson had conned clients who handed over money thinking they were buying a historic Jaguar and paying for its restoration.
To maintain the scam Nicolson sent regular updates to clients showing the progress being made. But often the vehicles were not Nicolson’s to sell and in reality belonged to other clients.
It was only after Barbary Hill went into administration that customers discovered the true situation.
Nicolson admitted two charges of theft and two charges of fraud between November 2017 and November 2018.
He was jailed for three years and seven months.
His benefit from crime was assessed at £409,146 but he was ruled to have no available assets and was ordered to pay a nominal sum of £1 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, meaning his victims will receive no compensation.
Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, told him: “The reason for these offences is that you made a bad business decision and you were trying to repair the loss. That is of little comfort to those you have stolen from and defrauded.
“It is incredibly unfortunate that those who have lost money cannot be repaid.”
Neil Sands, in mitigation, said Nicolson’s problems began when he paid a large amount of money for what he believed was a classic vehicle only to discover it was three different cars in one and essentially worthless.
“The money has not gone on a luxury lifestyle. He lives in a rented house. He doesn’t have luxury foreign holidays, purchase a speed boat or anything like that,” he said.
“He is by trade a car salesman. Over the years he became aware that Jaguar E-Type vehicles had considerable value and he set up a legitimate business to source, purchase and restore vehicles for clients.”