A ROGUE trader who defrauded an elderly Swindon couple has been jailed.
After admitting to two charges of fraud dating back to October 2019, Robert Christopher Hughes, 32, of Guilford, Surrey, failed to attend court for sentencing on three occasions
But in December, he was finally given a sentence of three years and four months at Swindon Crown Court.
The offences were committed by Hughes through his company, Newstone Driveways and Patios Limited, which was dissolved in 2021.
The victims had paid £8,250 to Hughes for work that included a replacement drive and a patio.
A surveyor’s inspection of the work carried out at the victim’s address following Hughes’ botched job, concluded that the value of the driveway built for the victims was nil.
The surveyor found that the driveway had been incorrectly built above the level of the property’s damp-proof course and that the driveway would need to be completely rebuilt as a result.
Hughes had failed to return to the victims’ home to address problems with the work.
He also failed to disclose the victims’ right to cancel the contract and made a false statement that a soakaway drain had been installed under a driveway.
For this, he was given sentences of two years and three years for the fraud offences with the sentences to run concurrently.
Because of his multiple failures to attend court, he was handed a further four-month; prison sentence.
He will serve half of the three-year and four-month sentence, due to his guilty plea, before being released on licence.
Hughes’ previous convictions were taken into account by the judge prior to sentencing. This included defrauding an elderly lady in 2011 and defrauding a further five victims, including four elderly or vulnerable victims in 2017, for which he was jailed for four years.
Hughes was still on licence after recently being released from jail when he committed the offences in 2019.
Judge Jason Taylor KC told Hughes that he was a conman who was “happy to prey on the vulnerable for profit” adding that he was a “serial offender with a track record of persistent dishonesty” and showed “a blatant disregard for the law for your own enrichment particularly when you thought you could get away with it due to the vulnerability of your victims”.
Reacting to the sentencing, Councillor Jim Grant, Swindon Borough’s Council’s cabinet member for communities and joint working, said: “Robert Hughes is clearly a conman who has continued to defraud elderly and vulnerable consumers.
“I am really pleased that the hard work of our Trading Standards officers and Legal team in Swindon has resulted in this successful prosecution and jail sentence.”