14th May 2024

Father-and-son rogues fined

A pair of men who attempted to bully and intimidate a Southwark resident have been brought to justice.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team

A father-and-son pair of rogue traders who attempted to scam a homeowner out of £18,000 for unnecessary roofing works have been convicted of fraud and unfair trading offences following an investigation by Southwark Council Trading Standards.

James Hearne Junior photographed at the property (image credit: Southwark Trading Standards)

Officers first became aware of the actions of Surrey-based roofing contractor James Robert Hearne Junior (25) and his father James Robert Hearne Senior (45) in December 2021 after bank staff blocked a £4,000 transfer in accordance with banking safeguarding policies.

Hearne Senior’s firm, T&H Roofcare Ltd, had originally been contracted to carry out guttering work at a property in Dulwich but the job was swiftly passed to the son’s firm, Drytech Roofing Contractors Ltd, which advised that a new roof would be needed.

Soon after, Hearne Junior’s team began to strip tiles off the roof without the homeowner’s consent and a sum of £16,000 was demanded without information about cancellation rights, as required by law. The next day Hearne Junior claimed “the beams need to be stabilised with noggins” and added another £2,000 to the bill.

With a large section of roof tiles now missing, the homeowner was pressured to pay a £4,000 deposit but when the transfer was declined, Hearne Junior increased the quote to £14,000 for the front of the house only.

Following a period of intimidation, the police were called and Southwark Trading Standards subsequently intervened.

An independent surveyor’s report confirmed there was nothing wrong with the roof originally and that the work carried out by Hearne was “abysmal and worthless” and Hearne Junior’s statement about beams was “complete nonsense”. No guttering work had been done either.

Rubbish and materials left at the property (image credit: Southwark Trading Standards)

The report concluded it would cost some £6,000 to repair the roof.

The victim impact statement described the Hearnes’ persuasion tactics as “heavy-handed, bullying, gas lighting and coercive control”.

The father and son were sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on 10 May.

Hearne Senior was sentenced to nine months imprisonment (suspended for two years), 150 hours of unpaid work and 10 hours of rehabilitation.

Hearne Junior was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment (suspended for two years), 200 hours of unpaid work, and 20 hours of rehabilitation.

Both men were also each ordered to pay £3,000 in compensation to the victim, £1,000 in costs, and a victim surcharge of £100.

Councillor Natasha Ennin – Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Southwark Council said: “It’s important to exercise caution when getting home improvement works done. Unfortunately, we’ve seen an increase in rogue traders operating locally so we all need to remain vigilant and do the necessary homework to avoid falling foul of unscrupulous criminals.

“Our advice to homeowners would be to avoid dropstep cold-callers and mass leaflet drops. Instead opt for traders personally recommended by friends, family or neighbours. Failing that, it’s a good idea to use a recommended trader scheme backed by trading standards team.”

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