10th July 2024

Oxfordshire TS jails rogue traders

A pair of rogue traders who defrauded a vulnerable homeowner have been sentenced to jail.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
These offences were carried out with significant planning and over a long period

Two rogue traders who targeted an elderly resident of Headington have each been jailed for 45 months following an investigation by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards.

Harry Davies (28) of Banbury, and Ben Birch (45) of Steeple Aston, cold-called at the victim’s home in March 2021 and offered to carry out gardening, guttering, fencing, window replacement and driveway work at the property.

Between March and September 2021 the pair obtained payments totalling more than £477,000 for work that was later assessed by independent surveyors to be worth less than £85,000.

Oxfordshire Trading Standards’ investigation found that much of the work had been carried out to a poor standard and in some cases, had not been done at all.

In sentencing the pair, His Honour Judge Daly said that this case had a host of distressing features and was a “shocking example of gross exploitation of a very vulnerable person”.

Jody Kerman, Head of Trading Standards at Oxfordshire County Council, said “We advise residents to say no to cold-calling offers of home repairs and maintenance and for anyone looking for a reliable trader to always get a number of detailed quotes. You can also check with friends and family for trusted recommendations and consider a trading standards’ approved trader from our Buy with Confidence scheme.”

Councillor Dr Nathan Ley, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Inequalities and Community Safety at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “These offences were carried out with significant planning and over a long period, with lasting impact on the victim and their family. The perpetrators displayed cynical attempts to win their victim’s trust and allay suspicion. They could not have failed to appreciate they were vulnerable yet continued to prey on them.

“I’m proud of the Trading Standards team in bringing this matter before the court and we will continue to work with the police and others to ensure that such fraud is identified and those responsible held to account”.

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