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Hi Paul - the smell you describe is more likley to be overheating brakes and the brake lining material has reached a very high temeprature - could be the result of a sticking caliper or cylinder - or even possibily poor fitting if the brakes had been repaired or serviced. Can you get a record of the vehicles last service and was the vehicle inspected by a surveyor from the insurers. When brakes reach a very high temperature the brake fluid will actually boil and start to vapourize resulting in brake failure.
P.S. did the vehicle have ABS
Currently in madnoel10's garage:
Honda Civic 1.4l