Rogue roofer pleads guilty to fraud
A rogue roofer who told a Stourbridge couple their roof needed urgent repairs when it didn’t and then carried ‘totally incompetent’ work has been ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.
John McDonagh, aged 25, of South Okenden, Essex, trading as Chessington Roofing, pleaded guilty at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court to three charges under the Fraud Act of dishonestly making false representations and one charge under consumer protection regulations of failing to give cancellation rights.
The court heard how an initial unsolicited knock on the front door escalated from an agreement to pay £20 to clear gutters to the false claim that the roof needed to be repaired.
McDonagh removed two roof tiles he claimed were obstructing the gutter, told the couple the roof battens and lining were rotten and required repair and showed them a piece of timber he claimed had come from their roof.
The couple agreed to pay £1,000 for repair work they were told would take a day, but became suspicious when McDonagh only took an hour and a half and then demanded full payment in cash.
The couple paid £480 and arrangements were made for McDonagh to call again the next day. The couple then contacted trading standards and when McDonagh returned, a trading standards officer seized the piece of wood he’d claimed had come from the roof.
An expert examination subsequently confirmed the wood had not come from the roof but was a piece of fencing timber, that the roof battens were not decayed and that the so-called repairs carried out by McDonagh were ‘totally incompetent’ and had no value whatsoever.
On September 26, the court gave McDonagh a 12-month Community Order for 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 compensation to the home owners, £3,790 costs to Dudley Council and a victim surcharge of £85.
Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health & adult social care, said:
This prosecution sends out a clear message we will protect consumers from the activity of rogue traders who flout the law and carry out unnecessary and sub standard work. This kind of activity causes a huge amount distress to the victims who have worked hard and saved to pay for repairs to their homes and are then badly let down.
Home owners should be aware that a trader is required to give 14 days cancellation rights, unless the work is urgent and the customer has requested waiver of these rights in writing.
In this case, the home owners were not given cancellation rights and were persuaded to allow the totally unnecessary roof repair work to commence immediately, preventing them the opportunity to seek professional opinions, further quotes or advice from family members.
Dudley Council has a number of services set up to protect residents from rogue traders. Anyone who is suspicious of doorstep callers can call the Bogus Caller Hotline on 01384 812045 to report an incident 24/7.
In addition Dudley Trading Standards, in partnership with Age UK Dudley, offers the Fix a Home list of local approved traders who provide services of a high standard at a fair cost. Copies are available online at https://www.dudley.gov.uk/media/10944/fix-a-home-directory-april-2019.pdf