A ROGUE-TRADER who ran a bogus airport car parking service has been sentenced.

Muhammad Muneeb Amjad misled customers who believed their cars were parked securely after they left them at Gatwick Airport as part of the Park Direct Gatwick Ltd meet-and-greet service.

However, the 33-year-old parked the cars in an open field, with West Sussex Trading Standards officers finding many were unlocked.

At least one of the vehicles was damaged, while dashcam footage proved it had been driven around.

At Lewes Crown Court, Amjad was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, after pleading guilty to engaging in misleading commercial practices.

Amjad, of Pycroft Way, London, was also ordered to complete a 10-day rehabilitation course, undertake 60 hours of unpaid work and pay compensation to seven victims totalling £1,141 and costs of £1,200.

In July 2019, West Sussex Trading Standards received a tip-off that Park Direct Gatwick Ltd was using a field in Ifield to park the vehicles of customers who were flying from Gatwick Airport.

The company and director were already known to the service, having previously been warned about the same conduct.

Officers carried out an unannounced inspection and found around 200 to 300 vehicles parked closely together, some almost touching, with many vehicles left unlocked.

Details of the vehicles were recorded, and letters were sent to the registered keepers, who confirmed they had used Park Direct Gatwick Ltd and believed their cars were parked securely in a locked car park with CCTV.

Trading Standards received a separate complaint from a customer whose car had been returned damaged, which the company had refused to repair or pay for.

She provided dashcam footage to the investigation which showed her car being driven around eight days before she was due to pick it up.

The judge told Amjad to pay this victim £566 in compensation as part of his sentence.

The company went into liquidation. However, Amjad was prosecuted under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards team manager, said: “Despite being previously warned about this activity, Mr Amjad’s company continued to mislead passengers into believing their vehicles were secure, when in fact they were left unlocked in a field that anyone could access. I would like to thank the customers for coming forward and helping to bring him to justice.”

Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for community support fire and rescue, said: “The outcome of this investigation should serve as a stark warning to all dishonest traders: we will find out what you are up to and we will take action against you.”