Rogue trader warned: ‘Pay up, or go to jail’


- Credit: Archant

A ROGUE trader has seen a possible prison sentence delayed – to give him chance to raise enough money to pay back his elderly victim.

Thomas Brazil, of Moorland Park in Hewish, appeared at Bristol Crown Court to be sentenced for an offence of fraud by misrepresentation.

The charge related to an incident in September 2012 when Brazil – operating as T&L Home Maintenance – overcharged a 78-year-old man for work done to his mobile home.

The victim had contacted Brazil to replace some rotten wood on his home, and later said he expected the work would have cost ‘a few hundred pounds’.

However, no quote or estimate was provided, and after the work was finished, Brazil submitted a bill for £3,000.

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The victim paid up, but a subsequent Trading Standards investigation saw Brazil arrested.

Experts examined Brazil’s work, and concluded the true value of the work carried out was just £700.

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Although Brazil contested that figure, he admitted in court that the work was worth no more than £1,000 – an overcharge of £2,000.

He also admitted altering his home address to look like a business address, failing to issue a written notice of rights and failing to obtain a waiver to start work within seven days.

Defence counsel told the court Brazil had raised £500 of the amount he had fraudulently demanded from the man and had got a job so may be able to pay further compensation.

Judge Picton told Brazil, who has previous convictions for fraud and theft, that it is vital he now raises the balance if he wants to avoid a spell in prison.

The judge said: “You preyed on an elderly couple, you conned them, you put them in a position where they felt they had to pay.

“You are not a man of good character.

“You have six months to demonstrate in a concrete way that you can avoid immediate custody. You must forego some of your luxuries to pay the compensation. If you don’t you will go inside.”

Sentencing has been deferred until April 7.

North Somerset Council’s executive member for consumer protection, Peter Bryant, said: “This case shows our determination to crack down on the rogues in the home improvement trade, who prey on elderly and vulnerable residents.

“I would advise the public to always obtain several quotes before agreeing to home maintenance work and, wherever possible, please use local businesses that have been recommended by family or friends as they will be accountable.

“Finally, it is advisable to shop around for the best quote and never rush into a contract. Ponder and take time to think about it.”

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