Wirral builder jailed for defrauding vulnerable local residents
A Wirral builder has been jailed for 12 months at Liverpool Crown Court after admitting defrauding vulnerable local residents by taking money from them and then not carrying out or completing any of the work promised.
Ian Bishop, 51, of Pensby Road, Heswall, was also sentenced for breaking consumer protection regulations after being prosecuted by Wirral Council’s Trading Standards Department.
His victims included a 90 year old widow, a man who was living in a hospital bed in his own living room and a lady caring for her husband with Parkinson’s Disease.
Bishop had traded under a variety of names including Heswall Builders and Heswall Bathrooms & Kitchens from premises at Bromborough Road in Bebington. In most instances Bishop targeted vulnerable residents he had previously carried out work for, initially asking if he could do additional work for them.
In most cases once Bishop had received money from the victims for new work they never saw him again. Those who did have some work done were then left with half-finished kitchens and bathrooms and had to pay again to have the work completed, the court was told.
During a hearing at Wirral Magistrates’ Court on 28 February, Bishop admitted to 16 charges of Fraud and nine charges of failing to meet the requirements of professional diligence and not providing information to his customers about their right to cancel work under Consumer Protection regulations. He also admitted two charges of not giving cancellation rights to consumers, even after being given extensive advice from Wirral Trading Standards that he was legally required to do so.
In sentencing him, Judge Brian Cummings QC said that the offences were over a sustained period of time and Bishop had continued to offend even after the intervention of Trading Standards. Despite the large number of victims involved, and he had shown ‘little remorse and prioritised his own needs.’
The judge added that Bishop had engaged in a ‘far beyond acceptable practice’, disregarding his legal obligations in an attempt to get money to stay afloat and clearly had a ‘susceptibility to resort to dishonesty when the chips are down.’
Colin Clayton, Wirral Council’s Senior Manager for Environmental Services said: ‘This kind of criminal behaviour is unacceptable, particularly when you consider the vulnerable condition of a number of the victims involved.
“The actions of this individual could have tarnished the reputation of honest traders in the local area and we will continue to take action against those who break the law in this way.’
If consumers wish to report a rogue trader to Trading Standards they may do so via the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06