Roy Martin Harris pleaded guilty to four criminal offences of ‘unfair trading’

Herefordshire Council has successfully prosecuted a local rogue trader for the third time in five years.

Roy Martin Harris, 26, from Gorsley near Ross-on-Wye (trading as ‘Absolute Gardening Services’) was given a 10 month suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to four criminal offences of ‘unfair trading’ at Worcester Crown Court on Thursday 5 October 2017.

Mr Harris was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, pay £700 of victim compensation and £1000 for court costs. A Criminal Behaviour Order was imposed on Mr Harris which bans him, or anybody on his behalf, from cold calling or distributing promotional leaflets for a period of five years.

In a case taken by Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards service, the court heard that Mr Harris had taken advantage of vulnerable homeowners by distributing leaflets and cold calling to gain gardening contracts. He failed to give the victims their legal right to cancel, carried out the work within the 14 day cooling period to a poor standard and charged excessive amounts. In one case he charged £470 for less than an hour’s work. Harris failed to give written contracts detailing the work being undertaken and the price charged, and ignored requests by consumers to provide receipts for payment. Mr Harris’ failure to keep any business records meant he was unable to justify to Trading Standards the amounts of money taken off vulnerable elderly consumers.

Marc Willimont, Herefordshire Council’s Head of Regulatory and Development Management Services, said:

“We will take action against any rogue trader preying on vulnerable residents in Herefordshire. We strongly urge residents in the county not to deal with these traders as they carry out vastly over-priced and poor quality work, usually by cold calling on unsuspecting households.

“The five year Criminal Behaviour Order shows the court takes such illegal trading very seriously and this case sends out a stern warning to other criminals who target the vulnerable in this way.”

Rogue trader incidents should be reported immediately to Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards by calling 01432 261761.

For advice on how to be scam aware, visit www.herefordshire.gov.uk/scams

Published: 6th October 2017