Report by James Franklin , Reporter
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
A ROGUE trader and former boxing champion must pay hundreds of pounds in compensation after using aggressive practice to con a 78-year-old widow.
Henry Smith will be tagged and subject to a curfew for five months after pleading guilty to six commercial practices charges.
The 33-year-old, who used the trading name of Protective Solutions, knocked on the door of the woman’s house in Hutton and offered to power wash, seal and apply weed killer to her drive.
A £250 contract was agreed, but Smith failed to give her a legally-required notice advising her of her right to cancel within seven days.
She also agreed to his offer of a reduction in price if she agreed to let him start work the following day, giving her little time to consider what she had agreed to or seek advice – something which is considered an aggressive commercial practice and a legal offence.
Although Smith started power-washing the next day, the widow became suspicious when he told her he had completed the work, despite the fact he had not put seal on the drive.
The 6ft-tall, well-built Smith then demanded payment in full from the 5ft 2ins lady, who called on a neighbour for assistance.
Having told the neighbour to mind his own business and repeated his demand, it was agreed that he would be paid £150 on the understanding that he returned the next day to carry out further work.
But when he did return, he merely applied weed killer to the drive and demanded full payment within 10 minutes.
With the widow refusing until he sealed the drive her neighbour called the police, but Smith had left by the time officers arrived.
The incident was referred to North Somerset Council’s trading standards team, who discovered that his power washing had left the drive in a worse condition than before.
At North Somerset Courthouse on Friday, Smith, who previously had a trading address in Wedmore but now lives at Otterford Caravan Site in Taunton, pleaded guilty to six charges, including failing to issue a cancellation notice.
The other charges were engaging in a commercial practice which was a misleading action, two counts of engaging in a practice which was a misleading omission and two charges of engaging in an aggressive commercial practice.
Magistrates ordered that he pay £230 in compensation to the widow and £250 for the council’s prosecution.
As part of a five-month community order he will also be tagged and subject to a curfew where he must not leave his home between 7pm and 7am each night.