A rogue trader who stole tens of thousands of pounds from vulnerable people has been jailed following an investigation by Monmouthshire County Council Trading Standards.
Martin Evans (48), trading under his own name and as Ace Garden Spaces, was hired to carry out home improvement work on kitchens, roofs and extensions. His victims paid deposits of up to £10,000 but Evans quickly stopped showing up, leaving them with jobs left unfinished or completed to a poor standard.
In one instance a victim paid Evans more than £20,000; when the work was subsequently assessed it was revealed to be worth just £1,200 and much of it had to be completely re-done.
Several of the victims, based in Monmouthshire, Caerphilly, Herefordshire and North Somerset, sued Evans but were unable to recover any of the monies they had paid him.
Following a lengthy cross-border investigation and prosecution by Monmouthshire County Council Trading Standards, Evans was sentenced to 45 months’ imprisonment for seven offences under the Fraud Act 2006; and 12 months’ imprisonment for one offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The sentences are to run concurrently. He was taken into custody immediately and will serve half his sentence before being considered eligible for parole.
Evans also has a previous conviction from 2017 following a prosecution by Herefordshire Trading Standards for eight offences under the Fraud Act 2006.
Sentencing Evans at Cardiff Crown Court, Mr Recorder Hammond said: “This was a case involving high culpability and high impact. What lies behind it is a truly appalling story of greed, exploitation and human suffering. Customers were abandoned and tried to encourage, cajole or beg you – you often claimed to be ill when working on a different customer’s job.”
Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Councillor. Sara Burch commented: “This was a complex case to investigate and the judge’s sentence highlights not only the incredibly serious nature of his crimes but also Evans’s selfish disregard for his victims. He has not just left their homes in a mess but seen them financially out of pocket. Not only did he take their money but they were then forced to employ other competent traders to finish the work he failed to complete.
“This case underlines why the work of our Trading Standards team is so important to protect residents of Monmouthshire. I would like to thank our Trading Standards Officers for bringing this individual to justice. I hope that this case acts as a deterrent to any other builder who targets and defrauds residents in this way. The council will pursue you through the courts and ensure that you are prosecuted.
“I’d urge anyone who is considering having work carried out on their property to do some detailed research first. Ensure the trader has a geographical address and provides paperwork, including a cancellation notice if the contract was formed away from the trader’s premises.”