Gloucestershire rogue trader prosecuted
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A builder who pleaded guilty to fraud and rogue trading offences in South Gloucestershire was sentenced to a total of 200 hours community service and fined over £5,000 when he appeared before Bristol Crown Court on Friday 9 January.
Elwyn Wayne Ingram, 44, of The Willows Caravan Site, Sandhurst in Gloucestershire (who trades as 1st Choice Home Improvements, Building and Landscaping) pleaded guilty to a total of 11 charges, two of which were under the Fraud Act, eight under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and one under the Environmental Protection Act. Ingram was sentenced to a total of 200 hours unpaid work and was ordered to pay a total of £4,000 to the victims of his rogue trading tactics. In addition, he was ordered to pay £1,000 towards prosecution costs and was fined a further £50 for an offence of failing to have a waste transfer certificate.
The prosecution was brought by South Gloucestershire Trading Standards following offences committed between September 2012 and September 2013 in the Coalpit Heath, Downend, Alveston and Thornbury areas of South Gloucestershire. The offences all involved unsolicited visits to the victims homes, leading to sub-standard and poor value roofing work being carried out as a result of Ingram employing aggressive commercial practices. These included coercion and/or denying customers their statutory cooling off rights and, in one case, the removal of waste from the house of another customer without having the required waste transfer certificate.
Evidence was heard from elderly victims of Ingram, including a 70-year-old woman from Alveston who was persuaded to pay £8,000 for a new roof on her house after he approached her and claimed to have spotted a problem with her existing roof. She told the court how Ingram removed two rows of tiles from her roof before she had even agreed for the work to be carried out by him.
Another victim, a 74-year-old man from Thornbury, told the court how Ingram and his canvasser, William Collins, secured work on his roof following an unsolicited visit, which resulted in him paying £2,150 for a few hours work. The victim also described how he was driven to the bank to withdraw the cash needed for the job.
The case involved expert witness testimony from a surveyor who gave opinion on roofing work done on the properties of three victims, all of which were described as “poor” and needed to be rectified at a cost in excess of the amount they were originally charged by Ingram.
Following the trial, Senior Fair Trade Officer Neil Derrick said: “This is a classic case of rogue trading where the victims were approached and convinced that work was needed on their properties. They were denied their legal rights to a cooling off period or work was started within seven days without the customers’ written agreement, which is an aggressive commercial practice, and where examined, the work done was shown to be of poor quality.” “If nothing else, the facts of this case serve to warn householders to be extremely wary of dealing with doorstep callers.”
Councillor Claire Young, Chair of the Communities Committee said: “This rogue trader conviction demonstrates that South Gloucestershire Council was correct to proceed against Mr Ingram and that it will not tolerate such tactics being used on elderly and vulnerable residents. I urge anyone who suspects that rogue traders may be operating in their area or who may have fallen victim to one to report the matter to Police or Trading Standards.”
Trading Standards can be contacted by telephoning 03454 04 05 06.
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