'Let this case be a warning' say Durham County Council chiefs as rogue trader paid £17,000 is sentenced by court

A rogue trader has been handed a suspended jail term after being paid more than £17,000 for work he failed to carry out or complete.

Paul Devine, of Cumbrian Way, Peterlee, admitted seven offences relating to unfair trading between October 2020 and July 2021, following two separate investigations by Durham County Council and Durham Constabulary.

The 25-year-old was trading as Devine Roofing and Property Maintenance when he first took upfront payments for work which he failed to carry out or refund.

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Durham County Council said he was paid more than £17,000 by six different customers to carry out roofing and home improvement works, and in each case he required payment upfront for materials.

Customers paid thousands of pounds for work that was not carried out or completed.

But the work was then either not carried out at all or was not completed, and he failed to refund customers.

Devine pleaded guilty to the offences and was sentenced at Durham Crown Court to six months in prison, which was suspended for two years.

He must also complete 30 days of rehabilitation activity and 200 hours of unpaid work.

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Joanne Waller, the council’s head of community protection services, said: “Devine’s actions have not only left a number of customers counting the cost but also damaged their faith in tradespeople as a result.

“I hope this case serves as a warning to any rogue traders who are thinking about operating across County Durham, as we will always take action against those who have scammed residents.”

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Compensation for Devine’s victims will be considered at the conclusion of ongoing Proceeds of Crime Act considerations.

Anyone who has concerns about a trader should contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.