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November 12, 2012 - 15:09

 A roofer working in Dorchester who admitted fraudulently failing to give a consumer their rights to cancel a job was sentenced this week.


Following a prosecution by Dorset County Council’s trading standards service, William Birch, 40, of Whitegates Caravan Park, Bridgewater, Somerset, was sentenced to three months imprisonment, suspended for a year, and a community order to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work having pleaded guilty to an offence under the Fraud Act 2006.


He also was ordered to pay £150 compensation to the victim and £1,000 costs to the county council.


Weymouth Magistrates’ Court heard how Birch had called at the house of a 75-year-old Dorchester man in May 2011 and offered to fit plastic edging to his roof for £99. The man agreed to this but Birch failed to give the legally required notice to the consumer of his seven day cancellation period.


As soon as he started work Birch said that he had discovered that the roof was rotten and needed urgent repairs costing £4,500.


A concerned neighbour called the police the following day and Birch was arrested and interviewed by trading standards. An expert who later examined the roof said that the work was unnecessary.


Birch had previously pleaded guilty on two occasions for similar offences in Devon in 2008 and 2011. In sentencing Birch. the chairman of the magistrates said that they took into account his previous similar offences and pattern of behaviour in targeting vulnerable victims.


Ivan Hancock, trading standards service manager for Dorset County Council, said:


“In this case the roofer concerned pleaded guilty to dishonestly failing to give the consumer written details of their rights to cancel the agreement to do the work. These rights are important, and are especially helpful to consumers when other problems arise with a job. Given the previous history of the offender in this case he was clearly aware of the law. We will continue to investigate any traders seeking to take advantage of older vulnerable residents as a priority.


“We recommend that residents do not deal with traders ‘cold calling’ and offering to do work on their homes such as roofing, gardening or laying driveways. Recommendations from friends and neighbours can be valuable, getting several written quotes is helpful, and do consider looking for a trader who is a member of the Buy with Confidence trader approval scheme.”