A ROGUE trader who defrauded an elderly and vulnerable Warwickshire resident of more than £93,000 to fund his gambling habit has been jailed for two years.
Between 2017 and 2018, Alex Daniel Martin, 30 of Bransgore, Dorset – who traded as Ideal Home Systems Limited, Sway, Dorset – made multiple visits to the victim’s home, despite living 200 miles away.
He repeatedly scammed the vulnerable resident, charging her exorbitant amounts for work he told her he had carried out to her roof, including cleaning, the application of an anti-fungal spray and repointing. The victim also made a large upfront payment for a ‘bespoke driveway’.
An expert surveyor concluded that the only evidence of any work being done was that the guttering and downpipes were clear, and that a wall may have been cleaned. The value of this work was described as ‘negligible’.
It transpired that Martin was using the victim’s money to fund a substantial gambling habit.
The prosecution was brought by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, following an investigation launched by Trading Standards Officers in August 2018 after they received a complaint about the trader from a family member of the victim.
Martin was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court, where Recorder Matthew Boyle remarked that the court took a very dim view of exploitation.
Martin was sentenced to two years imprisonment after pleading guilty to two offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and one offence under the Companies Act 2006 at an earlier hearing. A Criminal Behaviour Order was also imposed for a five year period which will come to an end in June 2027.
The defendant was ordered to pay a victim surcharge and £10,000 prosecution costs.
When Warwickshire Trading Standards launched their investigation, Martin began to pay back the money he had taken from the victim. At court he was ordered to pay the balance owed of £4,900.
Martin was already banned from being a company director.
In mitigation, Mr Jamie Gammon representing Martin stated that his client had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, was paying the money back that he had taken, and had sought help for his gambling issues.
Coun Andy Crump, Warwickshire County Council’s spokesman for Community Safety, said: “This has been a very lengthy and complicated investigation, but I’m delighted that our Trading Standards Service has been able to bring about a successful prosecution.
“Warwickshire Trading Standards will continue to seek to protect the most vulnerable in our community by raising awareness of the activities of rogue traders, supporting vulnerable residents when rogue traders arrive on their doorstep and investigating and prosecuting perpetrators.”
Report rogue traders to Warwickshire Trading Standards on 0808 223 1133.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/approvedtraders to find traders that are vetted and Trading Standards-approved.