Exmouth ‘timeshare’ boss didn’t pay costs

PUBLISHED: 12:25 25 July 2011

Exeter Magistrates Court; Picture by Terry Ife ref exe 0935-33-10TI

Exeter Magistrates Court; Picture by Terry Ife ref exe 0935-33-10TI


A rogue trader from Withycombe, who duped the public with false offers of free and discounted holidays, was in court last week after failing to pay £12,500 court costs.

Michael John Girvin, 51, of Hamilton Road, Exmouth, was last Monday before magistrates, sitting at Exeter, who were keen to learn when he would repay his debt after being prosecuted by Devon County Council’s Trading Standards Service.

Girvan was one of five directors from a major ‘timeshare’ operation, Saint Frances Marketing Limited, who last year admitted committing offences under consumer protection legislation.

In November, 2010, Girvin was given a three-year conditional discharge at Exeter Crown Court, and ordered to pay a share of £150,000 costs, after pleading guilty to specimen charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

This week, Girvin explained to magistrates he had found gaining employment difficult since last year’s court case, but hoped to clear his fine by the end of the year.

After he offered to pay £2,000 a month, magistrates warned Girvin to settle on a realistic figure he would be able to meet.

He was warned he faced court again if any payments were missed.

Girvin, who agreed to pay £500 a month, was told he could voluntarily increase the sum to clear the debt faster should his financial circumstances improve.

He told the court he had recently signed up as a salesman with a solar panel company, to boost his finances, working on a commission basis.

Girvin told magistrates he had recently attended a company induction course and secured six appointments with customers, but was waiting to hear if they had turned into sales.

The chairman of the bench, Mrs Edwards, said: “Good luck with selling solar panels. There are lots of them down here in the South West, so you should be getting good business.”

In November, Exeter Crown Court heard how Saint Frances Marketing Limited, which has since gone into liquidation, offered potential customers in Exeter, Torquay and Taunton ‘free’ or ‘heavily discounted’ holidays which were the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’.

Interested parties were misled into believing that once purchased, they could not cancel their holiday contracts – despite being bought with cancellable credit agreements.

The company also wrongly told customers it would buy the products back at their original price after two years.

The court heard how the free holiday offer ensnared consumers from around the country into attending presentations in Marsh Barton, Exeter.

After being falsely told the offer to buy a product was only available at the time of the presentation, consumers faced a hard sell for a range of holiday products, such as holiday club points and rights to use cruise boats on the Thames.

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