Doorstep traders sentenced after carrying out illegal work on protected trees.
Posted on: 5 February 2019
Father and son doorstep traders who carried out unauthorised work on several protected oak trees have been ordered to pay a total of £1,200 in fines and costs.
Christopher Hughes, 60, and Daniel Hughes, 22, of Moor Lane Caravan Site, Sowton, were sentenced at Exeter Magistrates Court on Monday 4 February in a prosecution brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service.
Both pleaded guilty to offences relating to carrying out work on protected trees and failing to give any paperwork or cancellation rights to an elderly customer.
They had cold called the victim at her home in Kingskerswell and told her that her trees needed cutting back.
The victim said that the trees were oak and subject to a Tree Preservation Order, but they persuaded the customer that they could still carry out the work, which they commenced immediately.
Both men had previously been advised by trading standards on more than one occasion that they needed to provide paperwork when carrying out this type of work and had received guidance to help them to comply with their legal requirements.
Despite this, they continued to cold call customers and carry out work without giving any paperwork.
Both men pleaded guilty to one offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, in relation to removing branches from protected trees.
They also pled guilty to one offence under the Fraud Act 2006, for dishonestly failing to disclose information that they were under a legal duty to give.
The regulations are designed to protect consumers from being pressurised on the doorstep into entering into contracts that start immediately.
Both men were told to pay £200 each for each offence, and costs of £200 each.
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards said: “Rogue traders make people’s lives a misery
using high pressure sales techniques to take advantage of people, especially the vulnerable.
“They often target the elderly who can be too scared to refuse or too embarrassed to complain about being duped. We will not tolerate such dishonest trading practices and our trading standards teams will continue to work closely with the Police, through intelligence sharing and joint initiatives, to protect our residents and legitimate local businesses.”
Sharon Anderson, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards, Group Manager Intelligence and Investigations said: “If you are looking for a tradesman to work on your property we recommend getting a range of quotes, and checking their references and credentials, including whether they are members of a legitimate trader approval scheme, such as Buy With Confidence.”
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