Rogue trader tried to swindle £7k from Newcastle pensioner

Rogue trader tried to swindle £7k from Newcastle pensioner

7 November 2018

A FRAUDSTER tried to scam an 80 year-old Newcastle woman out of nearly £7,000 for tarmacing her driveway which he had deliberately damaged, Downpatrick Court has heard.

Dean James Winder (27) stood shamefaced in the court on Thursday on five charges relating to work he carried out in February.

Winder, who traded as Unique Style Driveways, admitted one charge of fraud by misrepresentation and three further charges of aggressive, misleading, and unfair commercial practice.

He was also admitted using an inaccurate service flyer which failed to say that his business was registered in England.

All offences took place between February 10-13.

The court heard that the scam may never have been uncovered had it not have been for the actions of a taxi driver.

Police praised the driver who raised the alarm with the Trading Standards Service after he learnt of what was happening as he brought the woman to a bank to withdraw £4,000.

Trading Standards called the police who arrested Winder and another person at the scene.

Winder was given 200 hours of community service and fined £800 by District Judge Amanda Brady for his actions, which were later condemned by police as “disgusting”. 

He was also instructed to immediately pay back £4,000 which he had taken from the woman as a deposit.

A prosecution lawyer said that Winder approached the woman and her partner unsolicitedly to power wash and seal a paved area at their Mourneview Road home for £400.

However, after doing the work, Winder pointed out some problems with the driveway and offered to do further work for £2,000, which was increased to £6,900 to tarmac the full driveway.

Some of the problems that Winder had pointed out in the driveway were those he had actually created while doing the first job, the prosecutor added.

A defence lawyer acknowledged that Winder, now with an address at Holmes Avenue, Dreghorn in Irvine, Scotland, had seen an opportunity to get further work from the elderly couple and had done a “poor job” of tarmacing the driveway.

However, he said Winder had made a full admission for his actions, offered his apologies and had turned up in court with the full amount of money to be returned to the elderly householder.

The lawyer added that while there was another man involved in the work and transaction, Winder was returning the money on his own. 

Judge Brady described Winder’s actions as “mean-spirited”. She told him: “You took advantage of an elderly person, quite deliberately, and deliberately damaged her driveway to get more money.”

Winder’s conviction was later welcomed by the police.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “This was a callous and calculated act by Winder who deliberately set out to scam this couple out of their hard-earned money. 

“What Winder did was disgusting and I hope the court’s judgement will bring some level of comfort and reassurance to the couple.

“I would also like to praise the taxi driver who raised the alarm and thank our colleagues in Trading Standards Service.”

Chief Superintendent Walls also appealed to friends and family of older or vulnerable people to talk to them about ‘cold callers’ and make sure they know what to do when salespeople come to their door. 

He added: “Not all cold callers are rogue traders, but some are. If you feel that something isn’t quite right, it usually isn’t. 

“Unofficial traders can overcharge unsuspecting and often older householders for poor quality work, or work that is never completed at all. 

“Remember, it’s your home and it’s OK not to open the door if you have any concerns. You can speak to the person through the door or window, without actually opening the door to them.”