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Magistrates pass sentence on trader who preyed on vulnerable Gloucestershire resident

Published
27.01.2016

The case against a trader who targeted an elderly Gloucestershire resident was heard by Cheltenham Magistrates on Monday 25th January 2016.

The case was brought by Gloucestershire County Council Trading Standards Service after the resident had appealed to them for help.

The 81 year old from Lechlade, who has heart and mobility problems, rang the number on an advertising board outside a neighbour's house for J Evans Block Paving & Tree Work Ltd.

The trader came round to see the gentleman and quoted £430 to jet wash and re-point some paving slabs. The trader suggested some additional work to a garden wall and patio but did not give a price, and started work almost immediately. The customer paid £100 up front and another £450 cash on completion of the work.

Shortly after this the trader started calling every week demanding £100 in cash. Until trading standards became involved the customer had paid a total of £950.

Consumer legislation requires that when work is agreed at a consumer's home the trader must give the consumer detailed information, including his trading name, address, contact details and price to be paid. Crucially, they are also required to provide a written notice giving the consumer a 14-day cancellation period.

When trading standards checked with their counterpart colleagues in Oxfordshire, it was found they had given comprehensive advice to James Evans, who was responsible for carrying out the work, both verbally and in writing on the cancellation regulations. The consumer was not provided with any of these.

Evans was arrested by police in April 2015 and was interviewed. Following this, the company, of which his wife is director, and Mr Evans were charged by trading standards for failing to give pre-contract information, cancellation rights and the price of the work. The company was also charged with displaying an Environment Agency logo on its advertising board when it was not authorised to do so.

Both Evans and a representative of the company had failed to turn up in court on two previous occasions so Cheltenham magistrates heard the case against the company in its absence. They found the company guilty on three counts, imposing a fine of £1000 for failing to give written cancellation rights, £2500 for using an environment agency logo when not authorised to do so, and £2500 for making false representations regarding the overall price of the work.

The company was also ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £2150.63 and a victim surcharge of £120.

There is a warrant for Evan's arrest so he can face the charges laid against him for his part in the activity.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: "I am pleased to see that our trading standards service has worked hard to protect a vulnerable person.

"I hope that cases like this act as a warning to traders who are not operating legally. We will bring you to account and see you in court."

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