Dealer sold phoney 'Lord Snowdon' Rolls

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A car dealer was found guilty yesterday of selling a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit for £8,500 after falsely claiming that it had belonged to Lord Snowdon and Lord Grade.

A car dealer was found guilty yesterday of selling a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit for £8,500 after falsely claiming that it had belonged to Lord Snowdon and Lord Grade.

The jury at Plymouth Crown Court convicted Alexander Entwhistle on two counts of obtaining property by deception from Clifford Elliott over the sale of the 20-year-old car. Judge John Williams adjourned the case for pre-sentence reports. Entwhistle, 30, of Gayton, Cheshire was freed on unconditional bail. He pleaded guilty to three trading standards offences relating to magazine advertisements for the car.

A handwriting expert said it was almost certain Entwhistle wrote the names of the lords in the car's service book.

The previous owner, Guiseppe Giambroni from London, said he had sold the car to a man called Alex for £4,700, and neither Lord Snowdon nor Lord Grade were listed among the previous owners. Alex told him he was related to Lord Snowdon, and lived next to the footballers Jamie Redknapp and David Beckham, he said.

Mr Elliott, a partner in a Plymouth transport firm, told the jury that after seeing the car advertised he spoke to an "Alex" on the phone and was told the Rolls would be "perfect" for wedding car hire.

He and his business partner Douglas Pitcher went to Chesire and paid cash for the Rolls. They left for home in the car but were forced to stop at Taunton because of brake problems. A week later, Mr Elliott found papers which listed its 10 previous owners in the car's document folder, James Russell, for the prosecution, told the court.

None of those owners was titled. Mr Elliott said: "Part of buying the car was because of the titled ownership of it, and the assumption they would have kept it in good condition," he said. "The fact it had 10 owners meant the service history was not right."

In court, Entwhistle claimed that he told Mr Elliott about the 10 previous owners.