North Devon builder sentenced for fraud

Posted on: 20 June 2019

A North Devon builder and handy-man has been told to carry out 200 hours of community work and pay £1,000 after being sentenced for fraud at Barnstaple Magistrates Court.

Leonard Eastwood, 60, of Royston Road, Bideford, trading as LE Gardens and Patios and Ocean View Paving, pleaded guilty to the charges on Tuesday June 18 at Barnstaple Magistrates Court. The case was brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service.

Eastwood had omitted to provide three consumers with important legal cancellation documentation prior to commencing work for them.

He deliberately ignored previous advice from Trading Standards of the need to give this information, with the aim of preventing customers from exercising their right to cancel.

The incidents took place in January and June 2018 when he undertook some general maintenance work and the laying of resin bonded driveways for consumers in Sticklepath and Fremington, both near Barnstaple.

Some of the homeowners involved were elderly.

Furthermore, work on two resin bonded driveways was found by an expert to be below the expected standard of a competent resin driveway contractor. Some victims faced having to pay out more than £2,000 to put their driveways right.

In one case the bill for the work carried out by Eastwood was overpriced by £2000. When asked to put the work right, Eastwood provided a series of excuses and did not rectify or complete the work.

Eastwood received a 12-month community order for 200 hours unpaid work. He was also told to contribute £1000 to the prosecution’s costs.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility 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 charge inflated prices for sub-standard work and often target the elderly who can be too scared to refuse or too embarrassed to complain about being duped. Their actions also have a lasting impact on victims’ lives, damaging their confidence and sense of security in their own homes.
“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.”

Stephen Gardiner, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standard’s Legal Process Manager said: “Consumers should exercise caution when dealing with cold callers. We would suggest getting two or three quotes before committing to any work. Asking neighbours if they have had any work done recently and would they recommend the person is also helpful.

“Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards administer a Buy With Confidence scheme, members of which have been audited by Trading Standards Officers, and this may help consumers in selecting a reputable tradesperson.”

Details can be found here.

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