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Rogue trader given suspended custodial sentence

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A rogue trader who carried out shoddy work and falsely claimed to be a FENSA registered installer has been handed a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay thousands of pounds by a court.

Christopher Cole, aged 46, of Brownhills, Walsall, had previously pleaded guilty to two offences under the Fraud Act and 4 offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and was sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on August 5.

The court heard Cole had charged £3,000 to replace windows at the home of an elderly Coseley resident, who was in poor health.

However, the work was carried out so badly an expert surveyor described it as ‘wholly inadequate with no value whatsoever,’ with total replacement needed at a cost of nearly £5,000.

The windows were poor quality and undersized, resulting in gaps which let in wind and rain, with mastic and beading used extensively in an attempt to obscure deficiencies. A bay window structure was not supported, resulting in cracks to the wall on both sides.

Cole also presented a false certificate to the resident claiming he was a FENSA registered installer, with a false registration number on it.

The case was brought to court by Dudley Trading Standards. The court handed Cole a 14 month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to carry out 200 hours community service. He was also ordered to pay £4,830 compensation to the resident and £3,000 costs to Dudley Council.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health & adult social care, said:

This prosecution sends out a clear message that we will protect consumers from the activity of rogue traders who flout the law and carry out sub standard work. This kind of activity causes a huge amount of distress to the victims who have worked hard and saved to pay for improvements to their home and are then badly let down.

Dudley Trading Standards in partnership with Age UK promotes 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 http://www.dudley.gov.uk/resident/your-council/trading-standards/fix-a-home/

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Note to editor

FENSA (Fenestration Self-Assessment) Scheme was set up by the Glass and Glazing Federation as a means to self-certify compliance under Building Regulations of replacement windows and doors without the need for a separate assessment from Building control. Without FENSA certification an installation would require Building Regulations approval.

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