Release date: 29 October
A rogue trader who conned elderly people into having botched home improvements has been sentenced to three years in prison following an investigation by West Sussex Trading Standards.
Mark Cooper of Stockbridge Road in Sparsholt carried out work at three West Sussex homes which were unnecessary, grossly overcharged and poorly executed.
Lewes Crown Court heard how Cooper left victims, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, significantly out of pocket and facing expensive repair costs.
One victim from Chichester paid £71,350 in 2018 for works to their driveway, roof and balcony, after being conned into thinking Cooper had completed work to the property years ago.
A victim from Pagham paid £12,500 in 2018 for roof and guttering works. It’s suspected that Cooper lured the victim in by falsely claiming he worked on their roof many years ago.
The 53-year-old also conned a victim from Woodmancote into paying £10,950 in 2019 for repairs to their driveway which the court heard were ‘worth nothing’.
Cooper paid back £20,000 to his victims prior to sentencing following investigations by West Sussex Trading Standards. Local officers also brought Cooper to justice for two similar crimes across the UK.
Richard Sargeant, West Sussex County Council Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “These were serious crimes which have had a considerable impact on the victims.
“Our investigation uncovered blatant lies about the condition and need for works to be undertaken. Sadly, exorbitant costs were then charged for poorly executed and unnecessary works.
“If you’re considering having work undertaken, we strongly recommend using a Trading Standards approved ‘Buy With Confidence’ trader.”
Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire and Rescue, said: “I would like to thank Trading Standards for bringing this individual to justice.
"This outcome sends a strong message to dishonest traders that we will find out and take action.”
Anyone who is concerned about a rogue trader can contact Trading Standards online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport or via Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.
To find a Trading Standards approved trader please visit: www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk