Date Published: 30 October 2018
A rogue trader has been convicted and imprisoned after targeting an elderly Rutland resident with dementia.
On Friday 26th October Patrick Doran (21) of Traveller's Rest, Langham was convicted at Cambridge Crown Court after repeatedly targeting an 89-year-old man from the Oakham area.
Sentencing followed an earlier hearing in September, where Doran entered guilty pleas to two counts: contravening the requirements of professional diligence and engaging in an aggressive commercial practice.
Over a period of months, Doran repeatedly called at the elderly man's address to undertake small gardening jobs, charging hundreds of pounds more than would be reasonably expected for the work.
All the work undertaken was unnecessary as Rutland's Prevention and Safeguarding team, working with the victim’s care provider, had already arranged for a legitimate gardener to maintain the property as part of an ongoing package of support.
On one occasion Doran even took the elderly man to his local bank in a bid to withdraw cash. Fortunately, concerned neighbours contacted police, who attended Oakham and found the vulnerable man waiting in a confused state. On that occasion the trader fled the scene without his vehicle, which was subsequently seized by the police.
Trading Standards, working with Police and Rutland County Council’s Adult Services engaged with the elderly victim – providing care and support and fitting a CCTV camera at his home address. Camera footage of a later incident enabled the Oakham Community Police Team to identify Doran.
Despite knowing that Trading Standards were investigating, Doran engaged associates to attend the man's address on a number of occasions afterwards, obtaining a further £300.
On entering guilty pleas, Doran was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for each count, to run concurrently.
He was also issued with a Restraining Order, preventing any further contact with the elderly victim.
On sentencing, the Judge commented: "No education is required to recognise you were taking advantage of an elderly vulnerable man. It would have been apparent to you. You are only 21 and you had the good sense to plead guilty. The courts have to make it clear that preying on the vulnerable will not be tolerated."
"We very much welcome this decision. Rogue traders often target vulnerable and elderly people, hoping they can be tricked into accepting unnecessary work on their properties. It’s important that people are aware of rogue traders, look out for their neighbours and speak to elderly or vulnerable friends and relatives about the dangers. I would like to thank everyone involved in the investigation that helped secure this conviction. This has been an outstanding example of joint working between local agencies. Trading Standards officers, the Oakham Community Police Team and Adult Services all worked together to safeguard a very vulnerable man, providing care and support that has had a significant positive effect on his quality of life."
Councillor Gordon Brown, Portfolio Holder for Regulatory Services
“I am pleased trading standards and our local police team joined up to tackle this issue. The sentence handed down by the judge shows how seriously the courts take this type of crime where vulnerable victims are targeted and sadly hand over large sums of money when little or no work has actually been completed. I would like to thank the officers from Rutland’s Trading Standards Team for their hard work and commitment in getting this case to prosecution.”
PC Joe Lloyd from Oakham’s dedication neighbourhood police team
Rutland Trading Standards offer the following advice to help people avoid becoming a victim of a rogue trader:
- Don't be forced into making quick decisions on the doorstep
- Get several quotes from several local reputable companies who have a reputation to maintain, and if possible seek recommendations from family and friends
- Only deal with firms with genuine verifiable phone numbers and addresses - beware of companies that only use mobile phone numbers and accommodation addresses
- Anyone who signs a contract on the doorstep following a visit that was not arranged (unsolicited) by law has fourteen days in which to cancel it
- All cancellation rights must be provided in writing to the customer at the time the contract is agreed - usually on the doorstep. It is an offence not to do so
- If you don't want to speak to a trader at your door, don't open it to them - it can be hard to distinguish good traders from rogue traders so it might be easier to keep the door closed
- Do not allow uninvited callers into your home
- Be wary of offers to be taken to the bank to withdraw money, no reputable workmen would force you to do this. If you feel intimidated, close the door and call the police
The British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) lists more than 900 professional landscapers, landscape contractors, grounds maintenance contractors, interior landscapers, gardeners and garden designers who have been fully vetted and approved.
You can also find trustworthy tradesmen through Safe Local Trades - a community safety service that protects consumers from cowboy and rogue traders.