News item

Building company director convicted of defrauding pensioner

A company director who involved his teenaged grandson in cheating a retired police officer was penalised to the tune of more than £2,000 after being found guilty of fraud and two unfair trading offences. 
Patrick Delaney, identified as the sole director of West Wickham-based Crown Paving and Home Improvements Ltd, was fined £600, and ordered to pay court costs of £1,500 and a £60 victim surcharge.
The 65-year-old appeared at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (20) and was convicted of committing fraud by false representation, trading in an aggressive manner and failing to give cancellation rights.
The court heard that, last July, Croydon trading standards officers went to the Shirley home of a recently widowed 88-year-old former policeman. They were responding to a call from a relative who was concerned that the pensioner was being overcharged for work being carried out to the roof and patio of his home. On site, the officers met a 16-year-old and an older labourer. 
No written notice of the consumer’s right to cancel the contract had been given, leading officers to believe a criminal offence had been committed. They requested that Delaney, who turned up at the property in a van bearing the company livery, be arrested, along with his grandson. 
The pair were arrested before any payment had been made. No further action was taken against the grandson.
A surveyor said that the quoted charge of £3,100 was double the fair price, that the work that had been done was of generally poor quality, and that high-pressure washing of the roof may have damaged its tiles.
The bench rejected Delaney’s assertion to the court that his grandson – who had contracted for the work while handing out Crown Paving flyers – was acting independently. Also called into doubt was the claim that Delaney had arrived at the property only because he was working nearby and had been told his grandson was being arrested. He had previously admitted, when questioned under caution, that his grandson worked with him in the business. Additionally, the resident had identified Delaney as personally overseeing the job.
Councillor Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety, said: “Once again, we have evidence of a trader taking advantage of a vulnerable resident by overestimating the price of a job, failing to provide the legally required cancellation rights details and producing shoddy, low-quality workmanship.
“Fortunately, in this instance, the suspicions of a relative were aroused and our trading standards team was able to intervene before money changed hands.
“Traders must take on board the fact that if they try to circumvent their legal obligations, or take advantage of vulnerable members of our community, we will bring down upon them the full weight of the law.”


DATE: 24 February