Rogue trader conned 81-year-old woman into paying hundreds of pounds for shoddy work on roof

The shoddy roof work carried out by Shaun Doyle
The shoddy roof work carried out by Shaun Doyle

A rogue trader conned a pensioner into paying hundreds of pounds for shoddy work on her roof.

Shaun Doyle, 30, of Fair View, West Rainton, cold called at the 81-year-old woman’s home in Ebchester in May last year and tricked her into paying over £300 to fix loose tiles.

But the work was later found to be not fit for purpose and Doyle has now been given the 20 week suspended jail term as well as a bill for over £2,000, community service and a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) after a prosecution, brought by Durham County Council's consumer protection team.

Doyle had told the woman that ridge tiles on her roof were loose and after work was carried out she was asked for £337, which she paid in cash.

However, expert examination commissioned by the county council’s consumer protection team found that the work carried out was inadequate and not fit for purpose.

Doyle had also failed to provide the woman with written details of cancellation rights - a legal requirement in which a consumer is given 14 days to change their minds.

He was charged with fraud by false representation, failing to provide information regarding cancellation rights, engaging in a commercial practice which was misleading and which contravened the requirements of professional diligence.

Doyle pleaded not guilty at a trial in March at which he disputed the amount he charged the woman and also claimed he had done the work to the best of his ability and at what he believed was a fair price.

But he was found guilty of all charges and was handed the suspended sentence, which will be in place for 18 months, and ordered to pay the woman the £337 in compensation as well as prosecution costs of £1,710.67 when he appeared at Peterlee Magistrates Court yesterday.

Doyle was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid community work and given the CBO for two years, which bans him from cold calling call at residential premises for the purposes of selling goods or services, except by prior appointment with the controller or occupier. The order also bans him from engaging or inciting any third party to undertake those activities.

Owen Cleugh, consumer protection manager at Durham County Council, said: "We would urge residents to be cautious when visitors call unannounced at their doorstep and would advise people not to do business with them.

"If you’re unsure about whether your home needs repair work it is always sensible to ask family or friends for recommendations about reliable tradesmen.

"Legally, cold callers are required to give you cancellation rights and a cooling off period of 14 days in most situations for you to think about the contract and if necessary change your mind. If you are in any doubt just don’t do business on the doorstep.

"We are pleased with the outcome and we hope it serves as a warning to others to be vigilant when visited by cold callers.

"Don’t be rushed into agreeing to work and the best decision is usually to just say no.

"Any traders operating in County Durham should ensure that they comply with their legal obligations, providing consumers with cancellation rights and not making any misrepresentations as to the work they will or have done."