Bath & North East Somerset Council Trading Standards Team has successfully prosecuted a trader who conned two Keynsham neighbours out of almost £40,000.
On Friday 9 September William Maguire, from Coventry, pleaded guilty at Bath Magistrates Court to three offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Act 2008.
Two of these offences were for not acting with professional diligence and one for aggressive practices. Professional diligence requires traders to act with the special skill and care reasonably expected within honest market practices. Aggressive practice can be harassment, coercion or using undue influence.
The case was referred to Bristol Crown Court for sentencing due to the severity of the offences and on Monday 21 November Maguire was given a community order of 300 hours unpaid work to be done in 12 months. He was also ordered to repay just under £25,000 to the victims within three months or be sent to prison for 12 months. Costs of £9,960 were awarded to Bath & North East Somerset Council and must be paid within six months.
The charges relate to two building jobs Maguire undertook in November and December 2014 when two neighbours paid out £25,500 and £14,000. They had employed Maguire to upgrade their static homes. Maguire quoted high prices for the work required and did work of very poor quality. He repeatedly made demands for money from one of the victims and the costs kept rising.
The window work for one of the victims had large gaps around the edge filled with multiple layers of sealant and the windows were not watertight. Kitchen cupboards were also fitted in a bedroom instead of bedroom units and carpets were fitted on bare boards despite the homeowner providing underlay. Electrical work was considered to be unsafe and broken pipework caused a flood in one of the homes.
Maguire drove to Warrington to demand £14,000 from one of the victims while they were dealing with their late father’s affairs. The victim paid the money as she wanted the work done but never saw Maguire again.
The Bath & North East Somerset Council Trading Standards Team worked closely with Avon and Somerset Police officers to bring the case to court.
Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This is a good result as it is very unusual for victims to be repaid some of the money that they have lost. The Bath & North East Somerset Council Trading Standards Team runs an approved trader scheme called ‘Buy with Confidence’ where residents can search for local businesses which have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards. We would always encourage anyone looking for a local business to carry out some work for them to visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk .
“Anyone who thinks they might have fallen victim to a rogue trader, should report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for investigation on 0345 40 40 506.”
Before agreeing to any work, your local Trading Standards team recommend that you:
- Read reviews of traders and if possible use the Buy with Confidence Approved Trader Scheme.
- Ask at least three approved traders for quotes.
- Never pay up front and never pay cash.
- Say no to doorstep sellers.
- Always get a detailed written quotation/contract.
- Check the builder’s references and even pay visits to the references.
- Ask your neighbours, family or friends for personal recommendations of builders who have worked for them and carried out a good job.
The Buy with Confidence directory is available free of charge to callers to Bath & North East Somerset Council’s One Stop Shop in Lewis House, Manvers Street, Bath: The Hollies, Midsomer Norton and the Civic Centre in Keynsham. It is also available online at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/trading-standards/buy-confidence or by calling 01225 3966759.