Window fitter who fleeced Frampton Cotterell couple given suspended jail sentence
A WINDOW fitter who took £8,000 up front from a Frampton Cotterell couple and then disappeared has been given a suspended prison sentence.
James Edward Smith, 39, from Green Gardens in Poole, Dorset, made a verbal agreement to supply and fit new windows and doors at the home of the elderly couple, who have not been named, when he was working at a neighbouring home on behalf of a national company in April last year.
He was paid in advance and, although some of the windows and frames were delivered to the couple's home (above), Smith never returned, making a range of excuses before he eventually stopped answering their calls altogether.
South Gloucestershire Council's trading standards team was called in and worked with the police to track Smith down, giving him "an opportunity to return the money".
A council spokesperson said that at first, Smith claimed he had only agreed to supply the windows but his co-worker confirmed that the agreement had been to both supply and fit the windows and doors.
The spokesperson said the victims had to arrange for another trader to fit the windows and doors which had been delivered, as well as buying missing ones Smith had not ordered, costing them an extra £3,950.
Smith had been due to stand trial for the theft of £4,700 at Bristol Crown Court on November 10 but changed his plea to guilty at the last minute.
As well as the 16-month suspended sentence and repayment of almost £4,000 to the pensioners, Smith was ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,600 towards prosecution costs.
Council cabinet member for communities Rachael Hunt said: “We want this case to serve as a warning and a deterrent to any other dishonest individuals with intentions of rogue trading here in South Gloucestershire.
"We take a very robust approach to vulnerable residents being targeted in such a way and If you do so, we will track you down and we will take you to court.
“We encourage our residents to only deal with trusted tradesmen and make all agreements in writing.
"We discourage large up-front payments for obvious reasons and you should never deal with doorstep traders.”
To report rogue traders, call Trading Standards on 0808 223 1133.