ONE of the rogue car dealers at the centre of a storm of complaints from angry customers claiming they have been ripped off has now made threats against Daily Echo staff.
We revealed on Saturday how car salesman Richard Burbage was being investigated by police amid allegations he threatened one customer who claims he is owed money from the 40-year-old.
But just hours before the newspaper went to print, Mr Burbage contacted the Daily Echo and unleashed an angry torrent of abuse – and warned us not to print any more stories about him.
Meanwhile his apparently ‘former’ business partner Stan Rudgley, who worked with him at a former business called Woolston Car Supermarket in Hazel Road, delivered a vile response via email – sending pictures of faeces and making nasty personal comments.
During a phone call on Friday evening Mr Burbage told our reporter: “You print anything in the paper I will sue you individually and as a paper. Whatever happens, if you print anything more ... I will personally make it a vendetta.
“I hope you can sleep well because when I am finished I will turn your life upside down. You are harassing my family.”
Mr Burbage was responding to our request for a comment surrounding allegations made by one customer that he had been threatened via telephone earlier that day.
As reported in Saturday’s paper, the customer had gone to a lingerie shop called Ophelia’s Boutique, based at Botley Mills, after we revealed how Mr Burbage and his former business partner Stan Rudgley were believed to be back in business – using an office within the same premises, as well as the same contact telephone number and under a new business name of Valley Cars. The shop is run by Mr Burbage’s wife Lorraine.
As he continued with the phone call, Mr Burbage then tried to suggest that he, his wife and family were instead being harassed, adding: “If you carry on I will make it my personal last breath.”
He then made claims – which the Daily Echo vehemently denies – that his wife has been followed by our reporters on at least three occasions and that he had three witnesses who could back him up.
Mr Burbage then continued his verbal attack, saying: “ You deserve everything that is coming. I am personally going to make sure you don’t have a job. I am going to take out a private investigator to follow you. I want to find out your movements. I am going to make sure you have one night in the cells.”
He then warned: “You want to play with me and you will lose ... I have done nothing wrong.”
Before we politely brought an end to the conversation, Mr Burbage told us that he still sees Mr Rudgley – despite previously claiming they had parted company – because he is paying money back to him.
He told us: “I am not denying I have anything to do with him.
What I do is totally different. See whatever you see. You say no more about this or I will sue you.
Whatever Stan Rudgley does is nothing to do with me.”
Trading Standards continue to investigate claims surrounding Woolston Car Supermarket and a second business called Fort Wallington Car Sales. They have described it as one of the biggest cases of its kind in decades and so far are dealing with cases of more than 60 customers.
Hampshire police have confirmed they are also investigating after being contacted multiple times and are awaiting the outcome of the Trading Standards enquiry.
How the Echo has covered the story so far
IT was back in January this year that the Daily Echo first started printing stories about Mr Burbage and Mr Rudgley, after Woolston Car Supermarket suddenly closed amid mounting complaints over vehicles sold there.
Dozens of customers contacted us claiming they had been left in the lurch after demanding refunds or repairs to their cars.
There were also horror stories about cars sold by the firm – where Mr Rudgley and Mr Burbage worked – including someone buying a previously written-off vehicle and a car fitted with unregistered plates, while others were found to be dangerous.
Some people – in many cases hardpressed families – handed their cars back for repairs and claim they were not returned to them before the company closed, despite having bought the cars.
The premises were found abandoned, with dozens of letters of complaint and other mail left strewn on the ground outside.
Daily Echo inquiries discovered that the Woolston dealership had actually moved 12 miles down the road to an industrial estate in Fareham, opening up as Fort Wallington Car Sales, with the same director, Stan Rudgley.
We confronted Mr Rudgley and he was filmed promising to make amends to people who bought faulty cars, as well as refunds – after issuing a string of bouncing cheques.
But just days later that dealership also shut up shop, leaving dozens of people in the lurch yet again.
Documents also connect the two men to another business ran from Hazel Road in Woolston, called Hampshire Vehicle Sales.
The pair are both thought to be behind the latest business venture Valley Cars, which is being run out of an office of a lingerie shop in Botley Mills, which is run by Mr Burbage’s wife Lorraine.