Devon & Somerset Trading Standards Prosecutions

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Residents urged to guard against scams as cash recouped from rogue plumber

Victims of jailed rogue plumber Gary Henry will receive more than £16,000 of his ill-gotten gains.

An Exeter Crown Court judge ordered Henry, 56, who has served seven months of a two-year prison for fraud, to pay £90,000 with £16,263  to his victims under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service (DSTTSS) investigated Henry after complaints that his work was shoddy and vastly overpriced.

If you are concerned that you might be the victim of a rogue trader, know someone who might be or want some advice on how to recognise a scam call the Citizen’s Advice helpline on 03454 040506.

You can also visit our Scams, Rogue Traders and Doorstep Crime pages.

If you are considering having work done on your property you can search for a list of tradespeople vetted by Trading Standards on the Buy With Confidence website

Businesses who become members of the scheme commit to operate their company in a legal, honest and fair way.

On one occasion Henry, who traded as Barnstaple Plumbing and Heating and Gary Henry Ltd, charged an elderly couple, both recovering from illnesses, £3,860 for a boiler he bought for £1,699 and £870 for a flue pipe costing £87. The couple were also charged for work that was not done.

Henry, from Instow, North Devon, also overcharged another customer for a faulty oil-fired system which could have put the victim’s life in danger.

Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Services’ Interventions Manager Steve Gardiner said:

“The use of Proceeds of Crime legislation will enable recompense to be paid to those victims we have identified, and also means that money Mr Henry has made from his crimes can be confiscated by the treasury.

“These cases are thankfully fairly rare, but to avoid dishonest plumbers, people could use the Buy with Confidence scheme to find a trader so that they know the traders will be Trading Standards Approved.”

Anyone with concerns, or who would like advice about their rights, should telephone the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or visit their website.

If you can answer yes to any of these questions then there is a good chance that someone is trying to scam you:

  • Was the offer unsolicited?
  • Do I have to respond straight away?
  • Do I have to make a purchase to win a prize?
  • Do I have to ring a premium-rate number?
  • Do I have to give my bank or credit card details?
  • Is the business reluctant to give their address or contact details?
  • Am I being asked to keep it confidential?
  • Does it look too good to be true?

Online trader sentenced for selling counterfeit goods

A Taunton woman who profited from selling thousands of counterfeit mobile phone cases on eBay faces a jail sentence if she fails to pay back £20,000.

Gemma Grainger-Peach, 42, of Churchill Way, Taunton, pleaded guilty to selling more than 5,000 counterfeit Cath Kidston phone cases at Taunton Crown Court on Monday (30 January).

Read the full story here.

Rogue Traders Jailed for Conning the Vulnerable

Two rogue traders  were jailed for two years at Exeter Crown Court on Friday 17 June, after conning 17 elderly and vulnerable Devon residents out of £70,000.

Following a prosecution brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards, both Bryan Ferren, 38 and Kevin Hogg, 41, of Clifton Court, Clifton Road, Paignton, had pleaded guilty to five offences under the Fraud Act 2006.

Read the full story here

Two used car dealers plead guilty to supplying dangerous vehicles

At Exeter Crown Court on Monday 13 June, Paul Fitzgerald John Hussey, 49, and Adam George Wallis, 27, pleaded guilty to a number of offences in relation to sales of vehicles. 

The used car dealers operating out of Bideford have pleaded guilty to supplying dangerous and unroadworthy vehicles and false advertising, in a prosecution brought by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service.  The court heard that one vehicle, a VW Golf sold by Wallis, was in such a dangerous condition that the day after purchase the front passenger wheel fell off as the new owner was driving though Bideford.

Read the full story here

Dawlish plumber pleads guilty to fraud

On 22 April 2016 at Exeter Crown Court, Michael Hall of Dawlish, Devon, plead guilty to 6 offences under the Fraud Act.

Previously found guilty of falsely claiming to be Gas Safe registered in 2010, Mr Hall was found to have knowingly failed to provide cancellation rights to customers when forming contracts in their homes, in some cases starting the work before the customer had properly agreed to it. In addition the court heard that some of the work carried out by Hall had to be rectified by subsequent contractors.

Hall was given a conditional discharge for 1 year, and ordered to pay costs of £500

For more information, read the full story here

Couple Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty

On 13th April at Exeter Magistrates Court Anthony and Bridget Barrell of Chittlehampton plead guilty to 4 counts of unnecessary suffering in relation to sheep kept in North Devon. A custodial sentence of 11 weeks, suspended for 12 months, was imposed. The couple have been disqualified from keeping cattle, sheep, pigs and goats for a period of seven years. The court heard that the sheep had not been shorn for two seasons and despite receiving repeated welfare advice, when inspected by AHPA vets, animals were found to be suffering from severe fly strike with maggots boring into the flesh. One lamb was found to be emaciated and so close to death that it had to be euthanized to avoid further suffering.

For more information – read the full story here

Shopkeeper caught selling illegal tobacco

On 17th March at Taunton Magistrates Court, Mehmet Turan Yilderim of Binford Place, Bridgwater, Somerset pleaded not guilty to four charges, two relating to trade mark offences, one to customs evasion and one licensing offence, but was found guilty of all four offences.

In a joint operation with Avon & Somerset police and Smoke Free South West who provided a search dog for the visit to the defendant’s premises in March, 9kg of hand rolling tobacco and 200 packets of cigarettes were found and seized. Mr. Yilderim’s previous good character and financial situation were taken into consideration before he was sentenced to a Community Order for a year with 60 hours unpaid work, and ordered to pay £200 costs, plus a £60 victims surcharge.

For more information – read the full story here

Former estate agent pleads guilty to fraud

On 19th February at the Exeter Crown Court, Russell Baker of Ilsington, Devon plead guilty to 9 offences of fraud.  

The charges were in relation to his former estate agency business, which included letting out of properties on behalf of landlords. Initially the investigation related to tenants deposits, and whether they had been paid into a government approved scheme. A number of landlords also allowed Baker to manage their properties for them but they found that they weren’t receiving rental payments. As the investigation expanded, and Devon and Cornwall Police also became involved, a couple were found who had paid a £22500 deposit to Baker in relation to a house purchase, but this money was not received by their solicitors.

In total the charges pleaded guilty to amount to £157250 worth of fraud. Sentencing has been deferred to Monday 12th September, to allow Mr Baker time to provide restitution to all of the victims referred to on the indictment.

For more information -read the full story here

Rogue traders sentenced after targeting vulnerable

On 5th February in the Exeter Crown Court Thomas Maughan, and Thomas Mahon, were each sent to prison for 12 months following a conviction for fraud offences. A third man, Mathew Latham, who had previously pleaded guilty to the same offence, was sentenced to five months in prison, suspended for 12 months as well as 150 hours Community Service.  Maughan and Mahon were jointly ordered to pay prosecution costs of over £23,000.

The court had heard that the men were part of a gang who traded as Wimpey Construction Paving and Cleaning Services Ltd. and between August and November 2013, the gang attempted to carry out work at the homes of primarily elderly and vulnerable residents in Newton Abbot, Dawlish and Seaton. Their tactics included cold calling, overcharging for work, applying high pressure sales techniques and insisting upon cash payments for  shoddy, poor standard work.

For more Information – read the full story here