News item

Tricksters Sentenced

Two Blackpool men who tricked elderly Lancashire residents by falsely claiming to have links with local councils and the police  have received suspended jail sentences under new consumer law.

Brian Hughes, 45, and David Graham Fricker, 42, were sentenced at Preston Crown Court on 17 June following a prosecution brought by Lancashire County Council's Trading Standards Service.

The court heard how, between December 2008 and March 2009, the two men, who traded under the name of Callcare, visited sheltered accommodation schemes in Fylde and Wyre trying to sell expensive door-security systems. In some cases, they charged £565 for an installation, giving them £500 profit.

As part of their sales pitch, the men told residents that they were working with local police and councils. Similar links were claimed to Regenda Housing and New Fylde Housing, which run sheltered housing accommodation at Percy Road and Hatfield Avenue in Fleetwood, and Sandringham Court in Lytham, the court was told.

But trading standards officers obtained evidence from each organisation showing that these claims were untrue.

The men, who had originally denied any wrongdoing, changed their plea to guilty in what is believed to be one of the first convictions of its kind under new consumer laws (reg 8 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008).

Both men were handed 16-week suspended jail sentences and told that their claims had deceived vulnerable consumers who had trusted them.

As well as being ordered to pay court costs, Hughes and Fricker will each have to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community work or face being sent to prison.