A landscape gardener who admitted to having gambling problems has been given a nine-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to five counts of fraud.
Keith Albert Wilson of Maple Gardens, Sowerby, Thirsk, pleaded guilty to fraud by misrepresentation in relation to payments he received from consumers to supply materials and undertake landscaping work which was never completed.
A hearing at York Crown Court today (May 12) was told the frauds, for amounts between £814 and £5,197, amounted to £11,758.
Our Trading Standards Department launched an investigation into Wilson’s activities 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, who admitted to having a gambling problem, said he intended to complete the job when he took the money, but admitted he had not been honest with consumers when they demanded that the money be returned to them 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 are not 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.
Matt O’Neill, Deputy Director for Business Growth, Planning and Standards, said: “Consumers place great trust in merchants 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.”
If anyone would like to raise concerns about a tradesperson or need advice on a contract for home maintenance or building work, they can contact the Citizens Advice Service on 0808 223 1133.