Car enthusiast sold fake FX Holden prototype for $246k
A car enthusiast who built an FX Holden then falsely sold it for $246,000 claiming it as one of three original 1946 prototypes has had his jail sentence upheld.
General Motors Holden sent three prototype vehicles to Australia from the US, becoming the foundation for FX Holdens produced in Australia.
One of the rare cars is now a museum piece but the whereabouts of prototypes two and three are unknown.
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But for a while, Damon Donnelly claimed he had one in his possession.
The Holden Prototype 2 arrived in Australia in 1947 and over 22 years it changed hands several times.
There's no record of it beyond 1969.
Forty years later Donnelly bought the prototype's original numberplate, JP 481, in August 2009.
A month later he acquired a rolling chassis of a production model FX Holden sedan.
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Adding the numberplate, he insured it for $100,000 in November that year, claiming it was Holden Prototype 2.
Over the next two years, Donnelly added features and hallmarks to make it resemble the prototype, and removed others to disguise the fact it was a fake.
He added welding marks to floor panels, smoothed over inconsistent screw holes and flattened and repainted the number plate.
Numbers were added to the engine plate and an X casting, which usually denotes a prototype, was added to the engine.
In a media interview about the car, Donnelly claimed he had bought it from a deceased estate in 2009 and was looking to sell for $1.2 million.
Donnelly succeeded in selling the fake for $246,000 to his victim that same year, after convincing the man it was "the real deal".
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When arrested and interviewed in 2017, Donnelly claimed the vehicle had come to him in parts and he and his stepfather had just reconstructed it.
Donnelly was jailed for three years for a single charge of obtaining property by deception and was ordered to serve at least 18 months.
He was also ordered to repay the $246,000.
Donnelly appealed the sentence to the Victorian Court of Appeal but it was knocked back on Friday.
Among the arguments, Donnelly claimed the sentencing judge did not appropriately consider the delay in his case.
But Justice Emilios Kyrou agreed with prosecutors that delay was caused by difficulty detecting his dishonesty.
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