Rogue trader tricked elderly Banbridge man into giving him hundreds for guttering work

Rogue trader tricked elderly Banbridge man into giving him hundreds for guttering work

The case was heard at Newry Magistrates' Court.

Staff reporter

Reporter:

Staff reporter

A MAN who duped an elderly Banbridge man into paying out hundreds of pounds to carry out work to his roof that never actually was done has been ordered to pay the victim more than £2,000 in compensation.

Michael Connors, 20, was convicted of a host of charges at Banbridge Magistrates' Court.

They included theft of a Dewalt drill belonging to the victim, two counts of failing to give notice to a consumer of the right to cancel as part of the Consumer Contracts Regulations and three counts of failing to give notice of the right to cancel a contract made in a consumer's home.

He also admitted charges of criminal damage to the man's roof and three counts each of using a motor vehicle without insurance and having no driving licence.

The court heard that in April last year, police received a report of a theft and fraud at Windsor Terrace on the Castlewellan Road in Banbridge.

Police spoke to the victim and his niece who said that on 16 April a man had approached the victim outside his home saying he believed the man needed his guttering fixed and he would do it.

A price of £180 was agreed. The man gave him £140 upfront, with Connors then telling the elderly man there was a lot of moss and he could repair roof tiles he claimed were damaged, but said it would cost him more money.

He told he would take the victim to an ATM to withdraw more money, asking him for another £220, which he withdrew.

Connors then returned to the home and carried out more work, before telling him he needed more repairs again, which would cost him even more money, saying he needed £440. However, he could only withdraw a further £200 at that stage which he handed over to Connors. He also had given Connors £40 to get supplies to carry out the work.

The victim said he was frightened and uncomfortable during the process.

Connors then returned to the property, went to the garage and asked if he could borrow a drill, valued at £100, and made off.

The victim then told police Connors had returned again on the 19th of April for more money.

A licence plate was passed to police and they found the van later, with the description given of Connors matching one of the occupants.

He identified himself as Michael Connors. A search of the van was carried out for the drill which had been stolen but they couldn't find it.

Connors was interviewed by police and said he had carried out work to the man's roof but denied fraud, claiming he had only taken the man to the ATM because he had asked him to. He also claimed he had only received £90 from the victim.

The victim said Connors had damaged his roof and a quote was obtained saying it would cost £4,800 to repair it.

The drill was later retrieved while Connors was further arrested for a host ot motoring offences .

He denied damaging the roof, saying it was already in a bad state of repair.

Addressing defence counsel Seamus Lannon, District Judge Keown said: "This is a nasty offence and a fairly typical MO (modus operandi) - 'I'll fix this, oh this is wrong and now there is this problem'. Steal a drill to throw in with it."

Mr Lannon accepted it was a "mean offence" before saying an accurate repair cost for the roof couldn't be put before the court because there is "no definite diagnosis prior, any figure is open to question. The roof may have been in an unsatisfactory state to start with and the likelihood is that it was."

Judge Keown noted police reports which stated the wok carried out by Connors seemed to amount to the application of "expanding foam of no use sprayed into the roof".

The judge added that "dampness has occurred since this".

He then asked Mr Lannon what Connors' personal circumstances were, "apart from ripping off old people".

Mr Lannon said that at the time of the offences, Connors and his wife were up in the Banbridge area visiting relatives.

"A number of relatives are involved in general repair work and he foolishly got involved in it."

Addressing Connors in sentencing, Judge Keown said: "You have probably got how nasty and offence I think this is. I think it is despicable, particularly targeting someone who is elderly and possibly vulnerable."

The judge stated he would keep the court fines lower to focus on paying significant compensation to the victim and he ordered Connors to pay the elderly man £2,400 in compensation. Court fines totalling £415 were imposed, including a £15 offender levy.

Connors was also given an eight month prison sentence, suspended for two years and banned from the roads for 18 months.

Judge Keown left Connors with a warning, saying: "Anything like that happens again, the starting point will be eight months in jail, which will be added to if you come anywhere near me."

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