Cowboy builders pushed woman to hand over cash


Two cowboy builders tried to con a woman out of thousands of pounds, a court heard.

James Cash, 26, of a private caravan site behind Toms Lane in Kings Langley, and Thomas Casey, 21, of the caravan site in Holwell Lane in Hatfield, were trading as British Building Masters.

In May 2010 the men cold-called on a Luton woman and pressured her into agreeing to work on her chimney.

Once they had begun, they created more work for themselves, increasing the price with contracts for block paving and garage roof repairs as they went – a practice known as ‘boosting’. The initial price of £120 rose to £2,450 in two days.

Casey dishonestly gave a false address to the consumer and dishonestly failed to give the consumer written notice of her cancellation rights for each of the three contracts.

The woman was bullied into paying £450 in cash for work she thought was worthless, and at that point she contacted Trading Standards.

Luton Borough Council officers, working jointly with Beds Police, ensured the remaining £2,000 was never handed over to the fraudsters.

Casey was found guilty in his absence. The jury convicted him of four offences under the Fraud Act for his part in the crime. He was sentenced to a total of six months in jail, ordered to pay £5,200 costs and £450 in compensation to the victim.

Cash pleaded guilty to engaging in an aggressive commercial practice, which is an offence under Unfair Trading legislation. He was sentenced to 100 hours’ unpaid work, three months night time curfew with an electronic tag, £2,500 costs and ordered to pay £450 compensation to the victim.

Cash also gave a binding assurance under the Enterprise Act that he will give written cancellation rights to consumers in future.