A South Gloucestershire father has been sentenced to three years in prison and his son handed an 18 month sentence for their part in carrying on a number of fraudulent home improvement businesses whose victims were often elderly or vulnerable residents.
David (69) and Luke Jones (30), both of Bank Road, Pilning, appeared at Bristol Crown Court today after pleading guilty in February to a single charge of participating in a fraudulent business. They were imprisoned by HHJ Lambert and made subject to a largely indefinite Criminal Behaviour Order banning them from cold calling at properties and delivering leaflets and fliers to them.
HHJ Lambert said their offending, which was mostly carried out over a period of six years, had a severe impact on their victims. He described the pair as “bullies, con-men and grossly incompetent builders” and said that their businesses were built largely on “Lies…intimidation and sharp practice” and that they “targeted vulnerable people and left them with their lives in tatters”.
In court it was established that the case involved a total of 18 victims of the pair’s tactics from which they generated in excess of £70,000, but attempted to gain much more. However, where costs of rectification works were known, the losses to victims were put at £90,000.
The case was taken by South Gloucestershire Trading Standards who first started investigating the pair four years ago when they looked into a business called Fix It Roofing which had attended at a park homes site in Warmley and targeted two elderly residents by cold calling them.
It was established that the pair had approached a recently bereaved 81 year old female resident at the park homes site and initially made a verbal agreement with her to clean her UPVC porch for just £70.
However, once she had given her agreement David Jones, who used the false name of ‘Johnny’, and his son Luke became intimidating towards her and demanded more payment, as well as doing some jobs not agreed to. They drove her to the bank for payment twice and took a total of £4,618 from her which basically wiped out her life savings.
Whilst at the same park homes site the pair agreed to paint the outside of another 71 year old female resident’s house for £1,100, but subsequently charged her £2,250 for the same job.
She reported David Jones being ‘quite forceful’ and paid the figure demanded without question.
Both residents were given receipts with a false business address on and a surveyor who subsequently examined the jobs for Trading Standards concluded that they were worth much less than they were charged and was critical of the quality of some work.
Further investigations revealed that the pair used other business names such as Fix It Building & Landscaping, B&C Building and Landscaping and Fix It Landscaping and Driveway Contractors and not only cold called victims, but also approached people advertising for building work to be done on various online platforms.
Further investigations revealed another 88-year-old victim in Kingswood, who has since died, and who was targeted by the pair during 2016 when they told him he needed new soffits and
A surveyor’s report was very critical of the work done and valued it at significantly less than the victim was charged.
The pair were also established to have worked on the property of a 73 year old Parkinson’s Disease sufferer in Warmley during 2017 when they cold called her and did some soffit and guttering work. During this work David Jones offered to do a free repair to the victim’s garage roof and claimed to have done it whilst she was out shopping one day. However, he tried to get her to pay £4,600 for the work and pressurised her for a cheque, which she subsequently cancelled.
A surveyor who examined the roof repair was unable to give it a value as it had been so poorly undertaken.
Investigators from South Gloucestershire Trading Standards were able to trace further victims of David and Luke Jones through banking records in the name of Luke Jones who accepted payments for jobs by bank transfer.
These victims included a 59 year old Keynsham resident who was initially quoted £400-800 for the rendering of an outside wall, but who ended up paying them £5,890 after they put pressure on him by saying more work was necessary. Unbelievably a surveyor could only value the work done at £388 as most of it was ‘exceptionally poor’ and no value could be attributed to it.
A 73 year old Lockleaze resident even paid David Jones, who claimed to be ‘John Setter’, £10,000 for work including re-roofing of his house during 2016, but when a dormer roof that had been worked on leaked and collapsed due to poor workmanship he was repeatedly lied to and never received any promised recompense. His insurance company paid out £3,000 for internal damage, but he had to pay £3,895 himself for external repairs which were not covered.
He described David and Luke Jones as “charming con artists”.
The Criminal behaviour Order is indefinite in the case of David Jones and, in addition to banning him from cold calling and leaflet dropping, he is indefinitely banned from working on behalf of himself or another regarding building maintenance work without first having specific written approval from Trading Standards.
Luke Jones is subject to the same Criminal Behaviour Order regarding cold calling and leafleting, but in his case the approval of Trading Standards for his being involved in building maintenance work is only required for 10 years from date of sentence.
South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities Cllr Rachael Hunt said: “This sentence demonstrates the seriousness of the offending that took place, which will not be tolerated by South Gloucestershire Council.
“These offenders operated for a number of years with appalling disregard for their customers and the law. They repeatedly lied to them and denied them their legal entitlement to a 14 day cooling off period. They thought they were acting with impunity. However, our Trading Standards team were investigating them all along and eventually identified their whereabouts by working with Avon and Somerset Police.”
Anyone who suspects an elderly or vulnerable relative or neighbour may be the victim of such rogue trading can report it to Trading Standards on 0808 223 1133 or by calling 999 if the suspects are still present.