Fake businessman landed with £5,000 fine

Law Court

A cowboy builder who’s bogus claims to fit loft ladders left many footing the bill, has been sentenced at Bristol Crown Court following a prosecution brought by Bristol City Council.

Mr Thomas, who was found to have traded under more than 27 different business names, continually took money up front from customers who had booked his services to fit a loft ladder in their home but then never showed up to do the work.

The investigation into his business revealed that Mr Thomas was taking deposits for contracts that he agreed to and then failing to attend to complete the work, often rescheduling multiple times without ever turning up.

Mr Thomas’ crimes affected many victims, but the 17 people who gave statements in the case came from across the South West, from areas including Bristol, Bath, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Wales.

Sentencing was handed down for an offence under the Fraud Act 2006 in relation to failing to carry out the work as agreed, failing to provide refunds and using different business names in order to confuse consumers and prevent them from seeking damages.

Mr Thomas was given a deferred sentence for six months to allow him time to repay his victims, landing him with total bill of £5,020 to be paid before August 2024 when he next attends Court.

In the meantime, His Honour Judge Longman ordered a Criminal Behaviour Order against Mr Thomas which prevents him from taking deposits for work, or taking any payment from a customer until that the work is completed to their satisfaction. Marvin Rees, the Mayor of Bristol, said:

“Mr Thomas’ actions have caused significant undue stress to his victims and their families, damaging their trust and leaving many out of pocket during a national cost of living crisis. Thankfully, due to the excellent work carried out by our Trading Standards Service, Mr Thomas’ victims will see their hard-earned money reimbursed.

“This prosecution serves as another clear reminder to any would-be rogue trader that these practices are not welcome in our city. We will not hesitate to take swift and decisive action against cowboy builders.

“If you have been the victim of a scam or rogue trader, please report it via the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline. This ensures that you get the advice you need and that our Trading Standards Service can investigate and reduce the harm caused by rogue traders.”