Rogue trader fleeced elderly for repair work
A rogue builder ripped off elderly customers including an 88-year-old widow and allowed asbestos and other waste to be dumped across the South Hams in Devon, a court heard.
Traveller Dan Ward, aged 30, charged residents up to three times the fair price for shoddy work, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
One woman in Kingsbridge paid £2,700 for work which should have cost about £970. Ward was estimated to have overcharged three households in the town by a total of just over £3,400 for work including damp-proofing and rendering.
Waste from the jobs, including asbestos, was found dumped just outside Ermington, at Rowden Cross near Kingsbridge and Blackawton near Totnes, the court heard.
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Judge Paul Darlow said Ward had targeted victims in their 60s, 70s and 80s. He added that fly-tipping was the "scourge" of Devon.
But Ward avoided a custodial sentence after paying back his customers the full £3,415.
Ward, of Vincent Road, Barnsley, admitted one count of fraudulent trading in April last year. He ran a business called Master Roofing with charged inflated bills. He also admitted failing to ensure that waste was properly disposed and failing to keep waste transfer certificates.
The court heard he claimed he paid a man with a van £40 a day to take away the mess, but could not provide any paperwork.
Andrew Maitland, prosecuting for Devon County and South Hams District councils, said Ward was the organiser of a gang of workers in Kingsbridge in April. He said they travelled in a smart Mercedes van marked up as Master Roofing knocking on doors and offering building services. Mr Maitland said he failed to offer customers seven days to cancel contracts as is legally required of doorstep sales.
He said three households, including a widow aged 88 and a lady in her 70s, were heavily overcharged by 50-150%.
Mr Maitland said an expert who examined the work called the repairs "sub standard".
Barry White, for Ward, said he had not threatened the elderly people and had stuck to the price he had agreed before the job. He added the father-of-two would be working for his brother in Yorkshire as a labourer.
Judge Darlow gave Ward a 12-month community order with 280 hours unpaid work.
As well as the compensation, he was fined a total of £800 for the fly-tipping offences and ordered to pay £2,000 prosecution costs.