A plumber in North Devon who charged an elderly victim almost three times the standard rate for a bathroom refurbishment that experts described as ‘unsafe’ has been sentenced for fraud and consumer protection offences.
Gary Henry (57) was convicted on Friday at Exeter Crown Court of a fraud offence committed in relation to work he had carried out for a Convent in Lynton, North Devon. He was sentenced to eight months in jail, suspended for 18 months, and fined £8,000.
He was also sentenced for two consumer protection offences for a lack of professional diligence in relation to the quality and price of work that he had done for an elderly woman in Bishops Nympton, North Devon. He was sentenced to four months in jail for each of these, suspended for 18 months. He also has to pay compensation to the victim of £1,362 and costs of £6,500.
He had pleaded guilty to the offences at earlier hearings.
This is the second time Henry has been prosecuted by the Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service, having been previously convicted just three years ago.
In June 2015, he was convicted of three counts of fraud and three counts of contravening professional diligence at Exeter Crown Court. On that occasion, relating to offences committed in 2011 and 2012, Henry had carried out work for several consumers, which was of a uniformly poor standard. The work also vastly overpriced to the extent that the court found him guilty of fraud and he was subsequently sentenced to two years imprisonment.
Henry was released from prison on licence in early 2016. In November 2016, while still on licence, he presented a fraudulent invoice in excess of £10,000 to a Roman Catholic parish priest for plumbing work carried out at the Convent of the Poor Clares in Lynton, North Devon, six years previously.
The large invoice and the delay in presenting it raised concerns with the parish administrator, who discovered that Henry had recently been convicted for fraud and contacted Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards.
The expert witness employed by Trading Standards found that not only had Henry charged for a far larger number of hours than that represented by the actual work, but had also charged for a much greater length and more expensive type of copper pipework than was actually used. The invoice was for a sum of around 200% above the amount it should have been.
In addition to this the quality of the work was poor. While being investigated Trading Standards officers were contacted by the concerned family of an elderly woman. In April 2017 – again while Henry was still released from prison on licence – she had instructed him to refurbish her bathroom and to replace the hot water cylinder and had subsequently been charged £7,860.
Expert inspection found a host of issues with the work which contravened the Building Regulations 2010 and the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999.
Overall the expert found the installation was of poor quality and the invoice presented for the work carried out was excessively.
Stephen Gardiner, Interventions Manager for Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service, said: “If you are looking for tradesman to work on your property we recommend getting a range of quotes, and checking their references and credentials, including whether they are members of a legitimate trader approval scheme, such as Buy With Confidence.”