Essex trader jailed for ripping off elderly Petts Wood couple
PUBLISHED: 09:45 22 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:45 22 May 2015
Fraudster took deposit of £1,500 and never came back
An Essex trader has pleaded guilty to an offence of fraud by false representation at Bexley Magistrates’ Court.
In April 2014, James Doyle, trading as Elite Tree Services, distributed advertising flyers in the Petts Wood area o of Bromley.
A local couple, then aged 84 and 76, contacted Doyle and arranged for him to visit and quote for some gardening work. Doyle attended and provided a verbal estimate of £2,500 to tidy the garden and lay some Astroturf.
He told the couple that a deposit of £1,500 was required to buy materials. The couple withdrew the cash from the bank and gave it to one of Doyle’s workmen. Doyle never returned to carry out the work and no materials were provided.
The flyers delivered displayed a false address and the telephone numbers shown were unregistered.
Trading Standards investigated the case following a referral by Bromley police. Council officers were able to put together evidence using intuitive investigative techniques which led to the eventual identification of Doyle through telephone numbers and other trading names.
Doyle was arrested by police at the request of Trading Standards and was later picked out from an id parade by both victims.
The District Judge noted that Doyle had seen the opportunity to take advantage of an elderly couple and sentenced him to 26 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years. Doyle was ordered to pay compensation of £1,500 to the victims, prosecution costs and a victim surcharge. A restraining order was also imposed.
Executive Councillor for public protection and community safety Kate Lymer said: “By supplying advertising flyers containing false information, Doyle had laid the groundwork for committing fraud. It was only through excellent diligent investigation by Trading Standards that he was identified and brought to justice. The evidence against him was overwhelming leaving no option but to plead guilty to this offence. It is essential that robust action is taking against ‘rogue traders’ to safeguard vulnerable members of our community”.