A CLASSIC car dealer who stole from a finance firm after his Worcestershire business ran into trouble has been jailed for two years.

Anthony Pullen ran a successful prestige dealership called Wych Marques, trading at Crown Farm, Wychbold, near Droitwich, Worcester Crown Court heard.

The 45-year-old had built up a good reputation since he started the business in 1994 but he had run into cash flow problems by 2010, Anthony Vines, prosecuting on behalf of the Worcestershire Regulatory Services, told the court.

He managed to get £13,000 credit to finance a sale but when the deal fell through, he did not repay the money. He also sold two cars, an Audi A6 for £24,500 and an Audi A5 for £19,500, but he had them on lease and could not provide the V5 registration document.

Pullen, of Stratford Gardens, Bromsgrove, pleaded guilty to theft and fraud.

Jim Dunstan, defending, said he was now bankrupt and had lost everything. He said Pullen had tried to "save face" in an industry which relied on having a good reputation but was now unlikely to work in the business again..

After he failed to get credit from the banks, he turned to "loan sharks" who threatened him. He borrowed £8,000 but with the interest they charged he soon owed them £34,000 and they would not let it go, Mr Dunstan said.

They made threats to harm his family if he did not give them a car for nothing, Mr Dunstan said.

"He is not a conman, he was trying to keep a business afloat which he should have known was doomed," he said.

Pullen, he said, was worried that if he was jailed, he would no longer be able to visit his stepson in America.

Both of the people who bought the cars had been reimbursed by insurance, the court heard.

Recorder Rachel Brand, QC, said Pullen had sold high value cars without knowing if the purchasers would get true ownership of them. She said he had got into such trouble it had "spiralled out of control" and when the finance company advanced him money which he could not repay, he simply stole it.

He was jailed for a total of eight months for fraud and 16 months for theft, making a total of 24 months.