Rogue trader who preyed on elderly Welwyn Garden City couple is spared jail

PUBLISHED: 06:30 25 July 2013

ROGUE TRADER: Sean King

ROGUE TRADER: Sean King

Archant

A CONMAN was spared prison despite causing £2,500 damage to a pensioner's roof in Welwyn Garden City during a rogue trading ruse.

Sean King, 27, of Orbit Close, Finchampstead, Wokingham, was found guilty of fraud by false representation following a trial at Reading Crown Court on June 21.

King returned to court for sentencing yesterday and was handed an 18 month jail term, which was suspended for 24 months.

He was also placed under 18 months’ supervision and ordered to do 200 hours’ unpaid work.

A compensation order is being considered by the judge.

King targeted the elderly couple living in Welwyn Garden City in November 2011.

A man, believed to be King’s accomplice, knocked on the couple’s door claiming to be a surveyor, who needed to check the boarding and facia on the roof for a potentially high lead content.

He claimed a colleague would revisit the house to check the lead levels for free as part of an EU directive and any damage would be replaced for free.

King arrived at the property a short while later and removed boards, facias and tiles, causing “a large amount of damage”.

The victims were told it would cost £7,800 to repair the roof or that it could be done for £6,500, with the VAT waived.

The victims smelled a rat, refused and contacted a legitimate and experienced roofer who assessed and repaired the damage, at a cost of £2,500.

The investigation was led by specialist detectives from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s team, Operation Manhunt, in conjunction with Thames Valley Police.

Following a lengthy investigation, King was arrested in June 2012 on suspicion fraud and criminal damage.

Dc Jill Green from Operation Manhunt, said: “Having looked at the damage caused, the roofing specialist, who has 24 years’ experience, commented that he was shocked to see the state of the roof, left by King, and that he had never seen anything as extreme as the damage caused.

“As we have seen in this case, rogue traders call at your door and offer to do work on your home or garden that will either be unnecessary or vastly over-priced. They will be very convincing and prey on the older people who tend to be more trusting.

“They will create any excuse to con their victims such as stating the house has loose roof tiles or faulty guttering, and that they have material left over from another job and can do a quick cheap repair.”

She added: “It is important for people to be aware of this crime.

“My advice is to never consider having work done on your house or garden by anyone who knocks on your door.”

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