Ludlow rogue trader gets suspended sentence for preying on elderly householder

A Shropshire man, who tried to scam an elderly victim out of thousands of pounds for home maintenance works, has received a suspended custodial sentence after being successfully prosecuted by a neighbouring council.

Leo Warner was arrested by West Mercia Police
Leo Warner was arrested by West Mercia Police

Leo Warner, of Hamlet Close, Ludlow, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for aggressive commercial practices and the contravention of the requirements of professional diligence, in a prosecution led by Powys County’s Trading Standards service.

Warner received a 20-week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £150.

The court heard that Warner had contacted an 84-year-old Llandrindod Wells resident at his home address for building works.

Warner provided the victim with a verbal quote for the works to be carried out, namely soffits, guttering, painting of the house and garage. No paperwork was provided at that time. The price given was £3,500.

The work started on July 22, 2019, and the same morning Warner told the householder they would need a cherry picker. Warner presented the man with a costing from a local plant hire business that was not dated. The price went up to £5,500 but Warner agreed to do everything for £5,000.

The householder explained that he didn’t keep any cash in the house and his nearest bank was Hereford. Warner said he would follow him to collect materials. Warner gave the man directions to the car park and paid for his ticket. He told him he might as well withdrawn the full £5,000.

The victim went into Nat West Bank in Hereford, where staff initiated the Banking Protocol after their suspicions were raised that the man was withdrawing a large sum of money and they could see he was uncomfortable.

Arrested

The police were called and the victim was taken to a safe place while the bank branch manager and a colleague searched for the Warner's vehicle which was located near the bank. He was arrested by West Mercia Police.

Councillor Graham Breeze, the county council's cabinet member for corporate governance, engagement and regulatory services, said: “Doorstep crime can affect anyone but often it is the elderly and the vulnerable that are targeted by rogue traders offering home improvement services.

“In these cases, the work conducted is usually extremely poor. Our advice is never to accept work from cold callers and remember the old saying that if it is too good to be true, it usually is.

“The best advice we can give householders or businesses is not to employ any unknown trader who cold-calls offering to carry out repairs or improvements to their property.”

He said it was advisable to use a trader who is a member of a trade association, but check the claim with the trade body before employing them

"Ask for a written quotation before going ahead," he said.

"Make sure the trader's name and address is on it and that the price for the work is clear. Keep a note of any vehicle details including the registration number. Never part with money until the work is completed to your satisfaction. Always try to pay by cheque or credit card – never be persuaded into going to the bank or building society to withdraw cash."

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