A rogue trader who scammed pensioners for gardening work has been jailed.
Rocky Johnstone was due to be sentenced two weeks ago but attended Bristol Crown Court drunk and was remanded in custody.
He was dealt with at the court yesterday. (March 18, 2021)
The 36-year-old, of Compton Bassett near Calne in Wiltshire, admitted dishonestly failing to disclose information on August 25, 2018.
He was also convicted of participating in fraudulent business carried on by sole trader between May 25 and July 7, 2020, as well as theft on June 25, 2020.
Judge Michael Longman jailed him for 14 months.
He told Johnstone: “To people who are elderly and vulnerable people like you are, frankly, a menace, a leach on the elderly, preying on the vulnerable for your own benefit.
“And despite warnings from Trading Standards in the past, and convictions in the past, you have committed further offences, demonstrating an unscrupulous approach to business and a business model which was unfair and unlawful.”
Johnstone was made the subject of a five-and-a-half year Criminal Behaviour Order designed to eradicate further offending.
Lee Reynolds, prosecuting, cited several elderly residents in Bristol, Bath and Chippenham approached by Johnstone for gardening work.
A common theme was demands for inflated sums following minimal work, with no allowance for a cooling off period before jobs started and no means of identifying Johnstone.
The court heard he used several business names including Top Cut Tree Surgeon and Special Branch Tree and Landscaping without clarifying his whereabouts and using an 0800 telephone number.
It was calculated that, in several touts for work, he requested £5,000 for pruning jobs from customers aged between 75 and 96.
He was actually paid less following shoddy work, but on one occasion agreed to refund a client £300 but stole the money instead.
Catherine Flint, defending, apologised for her client’s previous drunken appearance at court and confirmed he was an alcoholic.
Miss Flint told the court that, after being remanded in custody, Johnstone had signed up to a programme to address his alcoholism.
She said her client was illiterate but he had found someone able to help him with appropriate paperwork in future.