A LANDSCAPE gardener with a gambling problem that cost him over £45,000 has been jailed for charging clients for work he never did.
Keith Albert Wilson, 41, of Maple Gardens, Sowerby, Thirsk, pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation in relation to payments he received from customers to supply materials and undertake landscaping work which never been completed.
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A hearing at York Crown Court today (May 12) was told the frauds, for amounts between £814 and £5,197, amounted to £11,758.
Wilson, who admitted to having gambling problems, was given a nine-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to five counts of fraud.
North Yorkshire County Council’s Trading Standards Department launched an investigation into Wilson’s business after receiving complaints from five consumers in Thirsk, Northallerton and York.
Wilson advertised on Facebook as KAW Landscapes and, in one instance, was recommended to a consumer by his own partner.
The court heard that Wilson had bet £45,583.31 over a period of seven months.
Wilson said he intended to complete the work when he took the money, but admitted he had not been honest with customers when they asked for the money returned when the work was not completed.
Sentencing Wilson, His Honor Justice Hickey said, “Everyone has the right to believe that a builder will come forward and do some work.”
After hearing the victims’ personal statements, HHJ Hickey awarded compensation to be paid in full to each claimant at the rate of £400 per month.
He told Wilson, “I’m not going to take you into custody today.
“It’s not appropriate. You don’t pose a risk to the public and you are able to work and repay the community.”
Wilson will have to complete a community order with 150 hours of unpaid work and a 25-day rehabilitation order.
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Matt O’Neill, deputy director of trading standards at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “Consumers place great trust in traders when they put their hard-earned money on deposit for labor or building materials.
“It is unacceptable that some traders then treat this money as their own without completing the work or supplying the materials.
“We are pleased that the court recognized the impact such an infringement has on affected consumers in today’s sentencing.”
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