July 19, 2024

Rogue Cornwall roofer refunds customers £9,000 to avoid prison

A rogue roofer has avoided an immediate prison sentence after refunding customers £9,000, following a successful prosecution by Cornwall Council’s Trading Standards Team.

At Truro Crown Court on December 23, 2022, Shane Lee (Senior) of Boscawen Lane, Blackwater, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months for fraudulent trading.

He was also ordered to pay £1,000 towards court costs and was given a five-year Criminal Behaviour Order relating to trading practices.

Trading under various business names, including Southwest Roofing, Cautious Roofing and Mini Roofing, Lee carried out substandard (and in some cases, unnecessary) roofing work at a number of properties between October 2019 and March 2021.

At an earlier hearing on August 25, 2022, Lee pleaded guilty to one charge under Section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006 (fraudulent trading).

The charge included:

  • Carrying out work and/or demanding payment without providing the legally required contract paperwork.
    • Demanding payment for work done without reasonable skill and care.
    • Retaining customer money whilst failing to comply with their lawful requests that they correct errors with the work carried out.
    • Providing misleading information in respect of guarantees
    • Obtaining and retaining monies from customers by acting in a manner that caused them to feel threatened and/or intimidated.

At one property, loose wires were left exposed in areas where leaks had not been rectified. In another, Lee had been contracted to pressure-wash moss from a roof, charging a rate that would have earned him £500 an hour.

Lee was offering 20-year guarantees to customers that he simply was unwilling to honour, often becoming verbally aggressive when challenged.

When one customer of Southwest Roofing attempted to contact Lee about the poor workmanship for roofing, he claimed that the business was “going bust” and refused to resolve the issues. Despite this, he immediately started trading under a new business name.

During the August hearing Judge Robert Linford indicated that if refunds were made to the victims involved in the case, then he might avoid an immediate custodial sentence.

Those monies, in the region of £9,000, have since been refunded.

Gary Webster, Fair Trading Team Manager at Cornwall Council, said: “This is just another example of criminal practices that leave customers frustrated, angry and out-of-pocket, with their homes at risk to further damage from the elements. We believe that the strong sentences send a clear message that we will not tolerate this kind of rogue trading in Cornwall.”

Councillor Carol Mould, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods at Cornwall Council, said: “I’m really pleased to see that these customers have been refunded their money and I’d like to thank our Trading Standards Team who have worked hard to seek justice on their behalf.

“It is simply not acceptable that people treat their customers in this way. For those who take advantage or put people at risk, we will not hesitate to take action.”