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Bromley plumber found guilty of scamming pensioner

PUBLISHED: 09:39 02 December 2014 | UPDATED: 09:39 02 December 2014

Kent Police

Kent Police

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He was found guilty of doing unnecessary work for the 78-year-old

A Bromley plumber has escaped a prison term after being found guilty of scamming an elderly customer.

Darren Leigh, who traded as DL Plumbing, was charged with two offences of fraud, for unnecessary maintenance work and the fact he charged VAT when he was not VAT registered. He pleaded not guilty but was found guilty in his absence at Bromley Magistrates Court in September 2013. Three attempts to have the conviction overturned failed and he was finally sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on November 26 2014.

The judge sentenced Leigh to nine months imprisonment on each fraud charge, which he suspended for 18 months. He also imposed a 12 month supervision order, a programme requirement for 20 days on the Thinking Skills Programme, and 120 hours of unpaid work. A fine of £100 was imposed for the breach of the previous suspension order. An application for compensation for the consumer was refused, following mitigation that the defendant was bankrupt.

The story began in April 2012 when Leigh was contacted by a 78-year-old Bromley resident who had a problem with a toilet cistern. When Leigh visited the victim’s home he told the her the water tank in the loft was leaking and needed replacing at a cost of £1750 plus VAT. She paid a total of £2,090. Her daughter later contacted Trading Standards as she was concerned about the quality of the work.

Bromley officers arranged for an expert to examine Leigh’s work which was found to be of a poor standard and ‘wholly unnecessary’. He had also left the original tank in the loft which showed no sign of a previous water leak.

Darren Leigh was known to Bromley Trading Standards, who had previously prosecuted him for unfair trading offences in 2009 when he traded as 5 Star Plumbing. He was also prosecuted by Kent Trading Standards in 2011 for the same pattern of behaviour for which he received a suspended sentence.

Tim Stevens, executive member for public protection and safety said: “Here is a man with a previous track record for defrauding consumers, he should have been sent to prison, especially as he committed this atrocious crime whilst serving an earlier suspended sentence. It’s our role to protect the public from this type of rogue trading and I would warn residents not to engage with this individual for property repairs.”

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