South Coast Roofer Fined For Conning Customers

A roofer found to be trading unfairly in Dorset and Hampshire has been ordered to pay £17,000 after a financial investigation into the money he made from his crimes.

On 4 March 2011, at Bournemouth Crown Court, Aaron Brian James Barnes (Aged 32, of Leigh Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire), who was trading as Pro-fit Roofline Builders across Hampshire and Dorset, had a Confiscation Order made against him under the Proceeds of Crime Act to pay  the £17,000. This followed a prosecution by Dorset County Council in November 2010 for an offence under the Fraud Act 2006 and for five offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Barnes’ offences had included dishonestly making false representations to a customer in Ashley Health, Dorset, that roof timbers were rotten and needed replacement. They also included further offences of engaging in unfair commercial practices by omitting to give consumers the required seven day cancellation rights for contracts made at their homes. These offences were committed in Ashley Heath and Ferndown, Dorset, and North Baddesley, Hampshire.

Three consumers, who suffered as a result of Barnes' unfair practices, are to be paid £6010, £2200 and £1400 respectively from the Order that followed an assessment of his assets and of the benefit he obtained from breaking the law. In addition Barnes was ordered to pay a further £2000 in prosecution costs to Dorset County Council Trading Standards Service, who brought the initial prosecution to court.

Having been prosecuted on 5 November 2010, Barnes narrowly escaped imprisonment after pleading guilty to dishonestly making false claims that led to him carrying out thousands of pounds worth of unnecessary work on a consumer’s roof. His sentence was twelve months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years, with a further sentence of 26 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years, to run concurrently, for failing to inform consumers of their rights to cancel contracts. Barnes was also put under six month supervision and ordered to carry out 250 hours unpaid work.

Ivan Hancock, Divisional Trading Standards Manager for Dorset County Council said:

“Consumers have a right to expect that businesses will not make false claims about work required. When it comes to something like roofing jobs the trader is in a position of trust and where that trust is abused we will follow up complaints as a priority.”

A spokesman for Dorset Police said:

“By pooling our resources and working in partnership, Trading Standards and Dorset Police have been able to ensure this offender has had to re-pay monies he obtained through his criminality, and that will help to compensate those consumers who were the victims in this case.”

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