A pair of rogue traders who defrauded a vulnerable homeowner of more than £128,000 for unnecessary and poor-quality work have been jailed for a total of six-and-a-half years following an investigation by Islington Council Trading Standards.
Luke Ockenden (27) and Peter Tannahill (41), trading under the name Luke’s Tree and Landscapes, drained the life savings of their victim in a prolonged campaign of harassment, coercion and threats of violence.
They had initially been hired to remove a tree from her garden for the quoted price of £300.
However, through relentless harassment they pressured the homeowner into undertaking various building works, including lead replacement, brickwork sealing, exterior house painting and interior plastering. The homeowner was eventually defrauded of £128,650 for work carried out between January and March 2021.
Tannahill even attempted to get the victim to add him to her will as a beneficiary, while Ockenden used implied threats of violence against her.
Islington Council’s Trading Standards team launched an investigation after the victim was advised to get in touch with them by the police.
An expert surveyor’s report revealed that if the work had been carried out to a satisfactory standard, it would have been worth approximately £35,500. In reality, however, the work was assessed to have a value of just £12,000, since most of it was either poorly executed or not performed at all.
Islington Council’s Trading Standards and Legal Services Teams led a prosecution and on 9 August at Snaresbrook Crown Court Ockenden and Tannahill were sentenced to 36 months and 42 months imprisonment respectively. The pair had pleaded guilty in a previous hearing to fraud by false representation (s1 Fraud Act 2006) for their involvement in a fraudulent scheme.
The judge thanked Islington Council’s Investigation Officer for “a thorough investigation in what was clearly a difficult case”.
Councillor John Woolf, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Community Safety, said: “We want to make sure every person in Islington has a safe place to call home, as we work to build a more equal future for us all.
“In this very upsetting case, one of our residents was harassed and defrauded in their own home, where they should have been able to feel safe.
“Thanks to our Trading Standards and Legal Services teams, action has been taken and the culprits have faced justice. We will take similar tough action against anyone who comes to our borough and rips off our residents like this.
“Islington Council remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the welfare and safety of our community. Our Trading Standards team is here to support and assist anyone who feels they may have been a victim of fraud. We are on your side.”