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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Man facing jail for 'floating coffin'

THE MAKER of a so-called amphibious vehicle designed for land and lake tourist trips around Windermere is facing jail.

Tim Dutton-Woolley, 59, was convicted at Carlisle Crown Court y after supplying what Judge Paul Batty QC described as a “floating coffin” unfit for use on either land or lake.

It took the jury just an hour to find Dutton-Woolley guilty of a charge brought by Trading Standards that he “consented or connived at” supplying an amphibious vehicle whose claim that it was “for the purpose of carrying passengers on land and/or water” was false.

Judge Batty warned him that he should not assume he would be facing a financial penalty, but there could be ‘much more serious consequences’.

He told Dutton-Woolley he had been convicted in ‘double fast time on overwhelming evidence’.

“This vessel was an absolute disgrace,” he said.

“Everyone who saw it, either at close quarters or performing, would probably agree that it was nothing short of a floating coffin.

“You are glib, dishonest and worthy of a significant sentence.”

The court heard earlier how Adrian Cowdroy, who runs the Lake-Lander kayak and boating centre on the lake, had intended to use £17,000 left him by his late mother to help buy a specially adapted vehicle from a factory in Sussex.

But when the vehicle was eventually delivered – much later than he had been led to expect – he found it was unfit to be used either on land or on water.

Mr Cowdroy, giving evidence against Dutton-Woolley, the managing director of the company which built and supplied the £34,000 Dutton Commander, said: “I was devastated.”

He said that after losing thousands of pounds of potential income because the craft was finished too late for the busy summer season he had been relying on, he had had to face the fact that the vehicle eventually delivered to him was not fit for the purpose for which he had bought it.

He said the vehicle – a specially converted long wheelbase Suzuki Jimny – was condemned as unroadworthy in a series of land-based inspections and refused a licence to be used on the lake when inspectors found it was not watertight.

Dutton-Woolley claimed in evidence that it was Mr Cowdroy’s fault the car was substandard because he had asked for modifications which “asked for trouble”.

He said he had warned Mr Cowdroy that the chassis being used was big enough for six seats, but not the eight that he wanted to put on it.

The court heard yesterday how Amphibious Cars, of Littlehampton, Sussex, had since been wound up.

Dutton-Woolley was bailed to his home address in Worthing, west Sussex, until sentencing on May 28.

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