A Kingswood rogue-trader has been found guilty of fraud after being prosecuted for repeatedly cold calling at the homes of elderly and vulnerable residents and falsely claiming to have carried out work on their properties.
Brett Henson, 47, of Park Road, Kingswood appeared before Bristol Magistrates’ Court from 10 to 12 July and pleaded not guilty, before Magistrates heard evidence provided by Henson’s victims, including the daughter of a 99-year-old victim who has since passed away.
Magistrates found Henson guilty of fraud and sentenced him to an eight week curfew order between 7pm and 7am. He was also ordered to pay £250 in costs and £50 compensation to each of three of his victims, along with an additional victim surcharge of £85.
South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards team brought the case to court after receiving a number of complaints about Henson’s doorstep activities in the Kingswood and Hanham areas.
Henson had initially started legitimately cleaning windows and cleaning and repairing gutters and facias. However, some of his customers became suspicious when he would return to their houses requesting further payment for work he had carried out while they were out.
Henson returned repeatedly to one Kingswood property claiming to have carried out work on gutters and requesting payment. On one occasion during late 2016 he claimed he had replaced an end cap on the rear guttering of the property and wanted payment, but his victim was certain that no work had been done after inspecting it.
On another occasion in February 2018 Henson was caught on a hidden camera returning to the Hanham home of a 99-year-old victim, whose suspicions he had previously aroused by taking a £20 payment from her for work he claimed he had done.
Henson argued that he had previously made verbal agreements with his customers to do work on their windows and gutters and that they were mistaken about the work not being agreed, or being done by him.
Magistrates rejected Henson’s arguments and convicted him on the basis that he had committed fraud in relation to three of his victims.
South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Cllr Rachael Hunt, said:
“We strongly advise residents not to deal with doorstep traders and to only make agreements with reputable traders, never paying any money up front.”
“We will not tolerate dishonest traders targeting elderly and vulnerable residents in our communities and we will work with the Police to identify and prosecute these individuals. I urge people to report any concerns they have so they can be properly investigated and offenders can be brought to justice.”
Anyone who is suspicious about doorstep traders can report it by calling 03454 04 05 06.