Men jailed over rogue trader roofing firms who targeted West Norfolk residents

Court news from the Lynn News, lynnnews.co.uk, @lynnnewscitizen on Twitter
Court news from the Lynn News, lynnnews.co.uk, @lynnnewscitizen on Twitter
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Two men have been jailed for their part in a rogue trading group that conned residents in West Norfolk out of thousands of pounds for poor quality work.

Daniel Francis and Daniel Ward, were jailed for 12 and seven months respectively at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday.

Francis, 31, of The Avenues, Norwich, had pleaded guilty to two charges of recklessly engaging in a commercial practice which distored the actions of an average consumer.

Ward, 35, of St Simon Close, Costessey, admitted a single charge of disguising or diverting criminal property. Both were also barred from acting as a company director for five years.

Their co-defendant, 56-year-old William Northman, of Hillcrest Road, Thorpe St Andrew, was given a five month suspended jail term and told to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. He had pleaded guilty to a single charge of recklessly engaging in a commercial practice.

And the trio were ordered to pay a total of £15,655 in compensation to their victims, of which £4,500 was paid at the hearing. The remainder will be collected over the next two years.

The case related to the conduct of two firms, Eastern Property Maintenance (EPM) and Assured Roofing Specialists (ARS), who obtained tens of thousands of pounds from elderly and vulnerable customers for roof work which was either not completed properly or not done at all.

The court was told that, during a six-month period in late 2012 and early 2013, Francis had cashed around £40,000 from customers.

Householders in Dersingham, Narborough and Fakenham were among victims of the companies across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Both businesses were set up by Francis, who worked with Ward to establish ARS after being arrested in connection with the conduct of EPM.

Northman was also commissioned to produce misleading sales literature for ARS.

Shaun Norris, intelligence and legal enforcement manager for Norfolk Trading Standards, welcomed the sentences imposed.

He said: “The defendants in this case caused misery to some of the most vulnerable people in our community, in some cases taking large sums of money for work they never carried out.

“We are particularly grateful to those consumers who came forward and provided the evidence, and to Norfolk Police for their support in what was a lengthy and complex investigation.”

Trading Standards officers recommend that householders should either employ companies who appear on the county’s Trusted Trader list or someone who has been recommended to them by relatives or friends.

Details of firms on the Trusted Trader list can be found online at www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader or by calling 0344 8008020.

Citizens’ Advice also runs a consumer helpline which offers information to residents on how to avoid becoming a victim of rogue traders.

The helpline is open Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm, on 03454 040506 or 0208 1850710.