A BUILDER who used ‘barefaced trickery’ to get money from a pensioner by claiming her property had woodworm has been jailed for 10 months.
Frederick Marsh, 44, was paid £800 after claiming that he would provide the “proper stuff” to treat the rafters in the loft space at her Shropshire home.
In fact, he bought five cans of Ronseal to treat the non-existent pests.
His company Affordable Property Solutions Ltd, was later investigated by trading standards officers following a number of complaints.
At Shrewsbury Crown Court, Marsh, of Copthorne Gardens, Bradley, Huddersfield, appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to four allegations of fraud by false representation in March and April, 2014. He had also admitted an offence under the consumer protection regulations involving unfair commercial practice.
Judge Peter Barrie gave Marsh three concurrent prison sentences and said he had abused the trust he had established with the three victims.
He said that in the incident involving the non-existent woodworm Marsh had used “barefaced trickery” and had abused the trust of 75-year-old victim.
“This sort of behaviour is distressing and upsetting and leaves the victims feeling unhappy in their own homes and makes them feel that they had been made fools off,” he said.
Judge Barrie said he had no confidence that Marsh would have the ability to pay the £18,800 compensation being sought by the victims.
However, he did order Marsh to hand over £1,700 that the defendant said had been made available to the court to be shared amongst the victims.
Affordable Property Solutions Ltd was fined £4,000 for consumer protection offences involving false website claims about testimonials, approval by CERTASS, a government regulation body, and the business being part of a wider company.
The court heard Marsh set up the business in January, 2013, using his home address and had a unit at the Ashley Industrial Estate in Leeds Road, Bradley, and had later opened an office in Telford.
In February, 2014, after a cold-call by telephone, Marsh quoted £3,200 fee to replace a roof and windows for Josephine Beddows. of Little Ness near Shrewsbury.
Mr Kevin Saunders, prosecuting, said that Marsh later told her he had discovered woodworm in the exposed timbers in her attic.
Marsh told her he would use the “proper stuff” and not material available at DIY stores, and she paid him £800.
It was later discovered that five cans of Ronseal had been bought for less than £100.
The defendant had also taken almost £8,000 from another pensioner in Bishops Castle, Shropshire, for solar panels that were never delivered.
In Ludlow, a third victim had paid out almost £25,000 for Marsh to build an extension. Despite the work being substandard and not finished, the defendant had made unjustified demands for extra payments.
Mr Marcus Harry, for Marsh, said that his client, who had been in the building trade since leaving school, was remorseful and had set up the company with good intentions.
He said that Marsh had problems with people running of the office in Telford and that his ambition to expand the business had got out of hand and spiralled out of control.