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On Friday 15 February Mr Ping HE of Notykin Street, Norwich, pleaded guilty at Norwich Crown Court to five counts concerning the manufacture/assembly and possession of counterfeit tobacco products, contrary to Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994.
The circumstances of this case are that on 18 December 2018 a warrant was executed by Trading Standards and local police at a residential address in Notykin Street, Norwich. Found inside the address was a single male, who identified himself as Ping HE. A search of the property was undertaken. Twenty nine and a half large bin bags were found in an upstairs room, each filled with loose tobacco. These bags of tobacco were plainly to be used to fill pouches, which would be labelled up to appear as though they were the produce of legitimate companies. A shed in the garden was found to contain a further six and a half black bin bags containing loose tobacco along with boxes of empty Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf pouches, duty stamps and clear cellophane wrappers.
Also found were masks, potassium sorbate, vinegar, vanilla flavouring and a spraying machine. Downstairs in the house were a number of large boxes constructed to contain pouches of Amber Leaf and Golden Virginia pouches which contained tobacco. There were also seven boxes filled with sealed bags purporting to be Amber Leaf and Golden Virginia pouches of tobacco, ready for supply.
There were also further duty stamps, cellophane wrappers and tobacco pouches. Additionally, there were 16 sealed packages of slabs of tobacco, and one opened pack of a slab of tobacco. The trade mark representatives for Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf later confirmed that the seized tobacco was counterfeit, and that they have not given authorisation to use their trade marks for supply or use by Ping HE.
Ping HE was arrested and taken into custody at a police station where he was interviewed with the support of an interpreter. During interview, HE admitted to knowing that the product was fake, and that it was criminal to manufacture fake goods.
This is one of the largest hauls of illegal tobacco products Norfolk Trading Standards has uncovered, with an estimated retail value in excess of £300,000. The quantity of hand rolling tobacco found was large enough to be considered a manufacturers’ distributable quantity and comprised 710 kg of loose tobacco in the black sacks, together with 16.5 kg of slabs of tobacco and in excess of 1,000 already filled pouches of counterfeit tobacco products.
Sentencing was adjourned until 4 March 2019 - Judge Moore has already indicated that Mr HE should expect a custodial sentence.
This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by Trading Standards to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of consumers (especially the young who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not compromised.
A judge has indicated that a custodial sentence is likely for a Norfolk builder who was today found guilty on two counts of fraudulent trading, and one count of money laundering, at Norwich Crown Court today, 31 January 2019.
John George Miller (46) of Three Mile Lane, Costessey, Norwich left eight people thousands of pounds out of pocket after carrying out work that was described in court as shoddy and potentially dangerous. John George Miller operated in the Norwich area through his companies HLD Construction Ltd and latterly as JGM Construction Services Ltd.
Judge Holt commended Norfolk County Council Trading Standards for a thorough investigation.
Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “It’s thanks to the dedication and hard work of the Norfolk County Council Trading Standards team that this rogue builder has been successfully convicted for his crimes. In all the cases the crimes led to a lot of stress, distress and considerable financial loss for people who were simply looking to make improvements to their homes.
“I was shocked to hear that in one case a parent was left with a new born baby in a house with no heating or hot water in March for weeks. I hope the result today brings some closure to what has been a very difficult time for John Millers’ customers and should serve as a warning to other rogue traders that they will not get away with crimes such as this.”
During the trial the court heard expert evidence from a chartered building surveyor who had found a long lists of faults with work carried out by John Miller at two properties. These faults included uneven and sloping floors, a front door that had been hung in a frame that was too large with gaps evident when the door was shut, and an undulating wall. On just those two properties the cost of remedial work was estimated at more than £14,000.
Other properties were left with unevenly spaced roof joists, leaking windows and a roof that had started to sag under its own weight. The total cost of finishing or putting right the work carried out by John Miller in just four of the eight homes is estimated to be more than £55,000.
Sophie Leney, Head of Norfolk County Council Trading Standards, said: “We first had complaints relating to Mr Miller in 2015. As more reports came to us it painted a clear picture of a trader who was regularly carrying out work that fell far short of acceptable standards. Work often ran months over schedule and in many cases was never completed at all. With the number of complainants willing to testify we were able to build a very strong case which has brought this satisfactory result today.”
The case has been adjourned to 20 February 2019 for sentencing at Norwich Crown Court, following which a further update will be provided to you.
Advice is available from Citizens Advice for anyone thinking of getting building work done, or who has a problem with a builder they have employed. Call 0845 404 0506 or visit their website.
Norfolk County Council Trading Standards operates the Norfolk Trusted Trader scheme which offers a list of accredited traders, including builders and those in the home improvements sector, which have been checked by Trading Standards. For more information or to see the online directory visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader.
4.5kg of hand rolling tobacco and 6,000 cigarettes worth around £3,000 were seized in Norwich on the evening of Monday 28 January 2019 as part of a joint operation between Trading Standards, HMRC and Norfolk Police. We were assisted by tobacco detection dogs. The tobacco products were dealt with by HMRC and were found in two stores. A further four retail premises were inspected with no issues found. One male was arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.
The action follows intelligence regarding the sale of illegal tobacco and is part of our ongoing efforts to tackle the supply of illegal tobacco in Norfolk. The problem of illegal tobacco goes beyond the impact to the local economy through lost duty. Many of these retailers are selling to young people at low prices and putting their own profits first. Some of these retailers are involved in organised criminal gangs and are connected to other crime such as modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
*Illegal tobacco is a term used to describe a range of tobacco products, including:
On Monday 21 January 2019, Norwich City Council heard an application made by Norfolk County Council Trading Standards to review the premises licence for The Polish Shop which trades as International Food and the position of the current Designated Premises Supervisor. A Premises Licence is required for a business to legally sell alcohol.
Norwich City Council revoked the Premises Licence for the premises on Hall Road, Norwich in their determination at the conclusion of the review hearing and also removed the current incumbent from their position as Designated Premises Supervisor.
This application was made by Norfolk Trading Standards following seizures of smuggled tobacco products located at the store on two occasions when the store was inspected with Norfolk Constabulary. The application to review the premises licence was supported by Norfolk Constabulary who attended to represent their support. Norwich City Council Environmental Health Officers who had provided advice to the business were also in attendance.
Some of the tobacco products seized were counterfeit, none of the tobacco products seized carried the required combined health warnings in English (an offence under the Tobacco & Related Products Regulations 2016) and none of the tobacco products were packaged according to the new requirements under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015. Additionally, some of the products were sent for safety testing to ensure they would self-extinguish as required by the General Products Safety Regulations 2005. All the products submitted for testing failed the tests, meaning the cigarettes presented a higher than usual risk of causing a fire if left to burn unattended.
The seized haul was worth over £17,500 when equated to the price of legitimate tobacco of the same amount and the duty evaded amounted to approximately £12,120. The matter is currently subject to a criminal investigation.
Three quarters of a tonne of illegal tobacco was seized in Norwich on Tuesday 18 December 2018 as part of a joint operation between Norfolk County Council Trading Standards and Norfolk Police.
The illegal tobacco has an estimated street value of £300,000 and was seized during a raid in Notykin Street, Bowthorpe, Norwich, together with a large amount of counterfeit packaging and other equipment used in the manufacturing process.
The action follows the receipt of intelligence from a member of the public and partner agencies.
At Norwich Magistrates Court today the defendant Mr He Ping, was remanded in custody until 17 January 2019, at which time he will appear at Norwich Crown Court.
This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of consumers (especially the young who may be tempted to try cheap tobacco and cigarettes) is not compromised.
Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of the Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “This is a great result for the Norfolk County Council Trading Standards team, and will severely disrupt the production of alleged illegal tobacco in Norfolk.
"I hope this raid will reinforce the message that we do not tolerate the sale of illegal tobacco in our county.
"The result today would not be possible without members of the public reporting their concerns to us, so I would like to thank those who take the time to do so."
Illegal tobacco is a term used to describe a range of tobacco products, including:
On 22 and 23 October 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr David Page, also known as Mr William Hand, pleaded guilty to a charge of participating in the keeping of a bay pony between 21 May 2017 and 9 August 2017. This breached the lifetime Disqualification Order imposed upon him by Norwich Magistrates’ Court on 1 December 2016.
The lifetime Disqualification Order, which prevented Mr Page from keeping horses or cloven hoofed animals, was granted following his conviction on eight charges of causing unnecessary suffering to twenty horses and failing to take reasonable steps to protect seven horses from pain, suffering, injury and disease under sections 4 and 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
At the sentence hearing for this breach on 23 October 2018 the Trading Standards matter was joined with a CPS matter to give a total sentence for Mr Page’s offending. The Bench determined Mr Page should receive 17 weeks immediate imprisonment. On release he will be subject to a Supervision Order which will run for twelve months starting on the date of release from prison. If this is breached he would be returned to court.
The Bench also recognised Mr Page had breached his lifetime Disqualification Order and granted a further lifetime Disqualification Order in respect of all animals with the exception of dogs. This prevents him from owning, keeping, participating in the keeping or being a party to an arrangement where he may participate in the keeping of animals. It also prevents him from dealing, transporting or arranging to transport animals. An application to terminate this order will not be permitted within 10 years.
The Bench further determined Mr Page had failed to transfer ownership of his two horses as directed at sentence on 1 December 2016 and these horses were passed to Trading Standards to deal with as we believe appropriate.
Mr Page also received a 3-year restraining order with regard to the CPS matter.
On 6 September 2018 at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Ako Mohammed Garib of International Food Shop (IFS), Great Yarmouth, pleaded guilty to eleven offences of having counterfeit tobacco products in his possession, custody or control, contrary to Section 92(1)(c) of the Trade Marks Act 1994.
Mr Garib was present when Trading Standards Officers, acting on intelligence, carried out an inspection of IFS on 1 March 2013. The Officers discovered and seized a considerable amount of illegal tobacco and cigarettes, the majority of which was concealed under the counter, and in a store room at the back of the shop.
Following a criminal investigation and decision to prosecute, Mr Garib was summonsed to appear at Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court on 15 January 2014. However, this hearing was subsequently adjourned, following the receipt of further information alleging that IFS was continuing to supply illegal tobacco products.
On 14 April 2014 Trading Standards Officers returned to IFS, this time with Norfolk Police and a tobacco detection dog. The shop assistant present identified Mr Garib as the business owner. Officers again found counterfeit hand rolling tobacco and cigarettes, this time in concealments under the stairs, in a storage heater and under kitchen units. On the same day a warrant was obtained to enter the home address of Mr Garib, during which Officers seized 25 packets of cigarettes and a quantity of electronic equipment and correspondence. Mr Garib was arrested and taken to Great Yarmouth Police Station, and then released on bail.
Mr Garib was charged on 19 September 2014 and bailed to appear at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ court on 15 October 2014. However, Mr Garib failed to attend court, and his legal representative advised that Mr Garib had returned to Iraq due to his father’s ill health. The matter was then adjourned until 7 April 2015, but Mr Garib again failed to attend court, following which the Court granted a Trading Standards’ application for an arrest warrant to be issued against Mr Garib.
No further contact was made with Mr Garib until May 2018, when he was discovered to be living in Peterborough. Mr Garib was arrested and subsequently committed to Norwich Crown Court to answer all the outstanding charges against him.
On 4 October 2018 Mr Garib was sentenced for the eleven illegal tobacco offences, and for an additional offence under the Bail Act 1976 (following his failure to attend court on 7 April 2015). Judge Moore ordered that Mr Garib serve the following sentence, to run concurrently:
The judge commented that this was a public health issue and that the public are entitled to expect such products to be legitimate.
The total value of the tobacco products seized, when equated to legitimate tobacco prices, is estimated to be in excess of £28,000, and there is an ongoing confiscation investigation (under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) in this case, to determine any criminal benefit accrued by Mr Garib.
This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this Service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of consumers (especially the young who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not compromised.
On 31 July 2018 at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court, Jack Vonde Meats Ltd was found guilty of offences under the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
Jack Vonde Meats Ltd operated retail butchers shops in Great Yarmouth and Gorleston under the names Nicholls Meats and, later, Jack Vonde Meats. On 27 April 2017, Trading Standards officers visited the shops and took a number of samples for analysis. The public analyst found the following:
The company was sentenced to a total fine of £15,000; comprising:
The company was also ordered to pay investigation and prosecution costs of £7,258.46 and a victim surcharge of £170. Jack Vonde Meats Ltd went into liquidation on 18 June 2018.
A million illegal cigarettes have been seized in King’s Lynn on Thursday 28 June 2018 as part of a joint operation between Norfolk Police and Norfolk County Council Trading Standards.
A 37-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the find. The illegal cigarettes* have an estimated street value of £500,000 and were seized in a series of raids from a number of locations in London Road and Norfolk Street. A large amount of cash was also seized during the operation. The action follows an investigation targeting the importation and sale of illegal tobacco.
Superintendent Dave Buckley, local policing commander for King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, said: “This result highlights our commitment to work with partners to target criminal activity, including those involved in organised crime.
Margaret Dewsbury, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee said: “The raids are part of our ongoing campaign, working with partners, to tackle the supply of illegal tobacco in Norfolk. The people that sell illegal tobacco put our youngest residents at risk because they are selling harmful goods at ‘pocket money’ prices. Sellers of illegal tobacco may be involved in other criminal activity, including organised crime.
“Hopefully these raids will raise awareness about our campaign and we would encourage Norfolk residents to come forward with any information they may have about illegal tobacco sold in their communities. Norfolk County Council Trading Standards are always ready to respond to any intelligence they receive.”
Residents can provide information by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline (anonymously if you wish) on 03454 04 05 06 or via their online form at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer or by calling 101 (use 999 in an emergency).
*Illegal tobacco is a term used to describe a range of tobacco products, including:
On 7 March 2018 at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court, Mr Philip Adams, previously of Old Catton, but now of Market Harborough, pleaded guilty to two offences of:
The Magistrates accepted the pleas but sent the matter to Norwich Crown Court for sentence as they believed their sentencing powers were insufficient.
The sentencing hearing took place on 27 June 2018 at Norwich Crown Court. In her speech, the Judge determined the offences committed by Mr Adams had placed intolerable strain and financial stress on both a young family and an elderly lady, and were more serious due to the period of time of offending and the repeated conduct of the defendant. The Judge advised an immediate custodial sentence was justified and imposed six month and one month sentences for the offences to run concurrently.
The Judge determined Mr Adams will serve three months and remain on licence for a further three months. The judge also directed a timetable for a Proceeds of Crime investigation which will include compensation orders to be sought for the victims.
The circumstances of the case are that in 2015/2016 Mr Adams, a self-employed builder, contracted with two separate consumers, one a young family and one an elderly lady, to undertake building and home improvement works. Mr Adams received monies from the two customers totalling just under £20,000. Mr Adams purported to progress statutory paperwork and progress building works over a time period for both contracts of just under one year. In both cases Mr Adams failed to complete the paperwork or construction work. Mr Adams also refused to engage with his customers on non-completion of work or to return monies owed to his victims for his failure to complete the work. This caused the victims financial and emotional distress and required the consumers to access further monies to employ other traders to complete the originally agreed work.
On 30 May 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Romanian Village Shop Limited and Ms Sorina Valeria Abraham, as sole director of the company, were found guilty of the following offences:
i. One offence of having in possession, custody or control in the course of a business counterfeit tobacco products the packaging of which contained a sign identifying or likely to be mistaken for a registered trade mark; contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
ii. Two offences of supplying tobacco products in packaging which did not contain a combined health warning in English; as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016
iii. One offence of supplying tobacco products which were not in the green packaging required for compliance with the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products 2015.
Ms Abraham became the owner of Romanian Village Shop Limited, trading at 24A Magdalen Street, Norwich in February 2016. Ms Abraham has another trading premises in Ipswich. Trading Standards started to receive complaints in Spring 2017 regarding the supply of illegal tobacco products from the Magdalen Street shop; i.e. cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco not packaged or labelled in accordance with the strict controls required on colouring, layout and health warnings. Trading Standards Officers undertook an inspection of the Magdalen Street shop on 1 June 2017 at which it was noted and confirmed by the store assistant that the shop did not sell legal tobacco products. Illegal tobacco products were seized from stock rooms in the cellar and on the first floor. Advice was left with the shop assistants to give to Ms Abraham on the requirements for legal sale of tobacco products in the UK.
Ms Abraham attended a PACE interview and confirmed she was the owner of the shop and company but she did not visit the store. Although CCTV was present for the store Ms Abraham never viewed it or went there.
The defendant sought legal representation and attended the first hearing at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on 14 March 2018 at which she pleaded not guilty. The trial was fixed for 30 May 2018. On 30 May 2018 Ms Abraham did not attend. Trading Standards asked for the matter to proceed in her absence. The Magistrates viewed the evidence submitted by Ms Abraham’s legal representative for her non-attendance and agreed to proceed.
The four offences were proved in absence. The Magistrates discussed whether they wished to proceed to sentencing and agreed to proceed. After a short recess to deliberate the Magistrates returned with their determination which included £2,000 fines for the four offences, £1,600 costs awarded to Trading Standards, and a victim surcharge of £180. The Magistrates also granted a forfeiture and destruction order in favour of Trading Standards for the seized items.
This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this Service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of
consumers is not compromised (especially that of young people who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes).
On 17 May 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Nigel Key of Limpenhoe, pleaded guilty to the following offences:
(i) One offence contrary to Regulation 17 of the Animal By-Products Regulations 2013 by his failure to ensure bodies or parts of bodies of animals not slaughtered for human consumption were kept in such a manner as to ensure no animal or bird had access to them;
(ii) One offence contrary to Regulation 17 of the Animal By-Products Regulations 2013 by failing to ensure animal by-products were transported without undue delay under conditions which prevent risks arising to public and animal health.
Mr Key is an experienced farmer who has farmed livestock at his farm for a number of years (over 30). Over this time Mr Key has received significant advice and assistance to understand the requirements for legal disposal of animal by-products.
Following a complaint made to Trading Standards that dead and decomposing animal bodies were on Mr Key’s farm, Trading Standards undertook an inspection with an Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) vet in July 2017. At the farm sheep carcases and bones could be seen on the ground. These animal by-products were accessible to wild animals and birds and not stored correctly for collection and disposal by an approved animal by-product collector. A box which had an ill-fitting lid contained animal carcases for collection. The officers inspected the box and identified, due to their state of decomposition, that animal by-products stored in the box had been awaiting collection for longer than three weeks.
The officers inspected a wider area of the farm and identified animal bones and remains spread across adjacent fields of the farm. These animal bones, remains and carcases pose a significant threat of spread of disease by wild animals.
When sentencing, the magistrates noted that this was not the first time that Mr Key had been before the Court regarding such matters, and fined him £2,000 (£1,000 for each offence). He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £100 and to pay prosecution costs of £1,665.
On 5 April 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Hakem Ali of Maxi LT Ltd, trading as Maxi LT, 53 Woodcock Road, Norwich NR3 3TH, pleaded guilty to the following offences:-
(i) one offence of having counterfeit tobacco products in his possession, custody or control, contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994
(ii) one offence of possession with intent to supply tobacco products which did not contain a health warning in English, as required by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.
At the sentencing hearing on 17 May 2018 the Court ordered that Mr Ali should receive a community sentence of 200 hours unpaid work.
Following sentencing, the Court set out a timetable for financial investigation of any criminal benefit arising from this case (under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) - the outcome of which will also inform any costs due to the Council from the legal proceedings.
Mr Ali became the owner of Maxi LT Ltd, trading as Maxi LT in January 2012. Trading Standards started to receive complaints regarding the supply of illegal tobacco products in December 2016 and on 13 December 2016 a test purchase was carried out at the premises and sales of illegal tobacco products were made.
Despite the intervention of Trading Standards, further intelligence received during March 2017 suggested ongoing sales of illegal tobacco from the premises. On 10 March 2017, at a joint inspection with Norfolk Constabulary, using a tobacco detection dog, Trading Standards found in the CCTV room a concealment above the false ceiling over the toilet which contained 349 packets of cigarettes and 18.50g of hand rolling tobacco. The value of the total amount of tobacco products seized amounted to £3,800 which is considered a commercial quantity.
Mr Ali’s alcohol licence for the premises was revoked following a Trading Standards application to Norwich City Council, at a review hearing on 22 September 2017. Mr Ali initially appealed against this decision but on 12 March 2018 at Norwich Magistrates Court the appeal was abandoned and costs were ordered against Mr Ali.
This investigation forms part of a suite of illegal tobacco investigations undertaken by this Service to counteract the sale of such goods and ensure the health of consumers (especially the young who may be tempted to try cheap cigarettes) is not compromised.
On 28 February 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Peter Bradley of Norwich pleaded guilty to offences of contravening the requirements of professional diligence contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, and fraudulent trading contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, by taking payment for and then failing to supply used motor vehicle engines.
Mr Bradley also asked for two further similar offences to be taken into consideration, covering a subsequent time period and three further consumers.
On 4 April 2018, at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Bradley asked for another two similar offences to be taken into consideration, covering a further time period and one other consumer.
Mr Bradley was sentenced to:
Mr Bradley was also ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £6834.90.
The circumstances of the case are that Mr Bradley, a sole trader operating through a website as Find an Engine UK, offered to supply used engines to a number of consumers. In each case, an up-front deposit or prepayment was requested, and in some cases further payments were also requested, but no engine was supplied. Over a period of 13 months, over £6000 was taken from the 14 consumers who were witnesses in the case. Mr Bradley had accepted a caution from Trading Standards in relation to similar conduct in September 2016.
On 27 February 2018 at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower, a self-employed builder, pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to carry out work within a reasonable time or at all and failing to carry out work with reasonable care and skill, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
On 28 March 2018, at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower was sentenced to:
The circumstances of the first offence are that Mr Blanchflower contracted with a couple to build an extension. Despite being paid over £85,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build for more than 6 months, and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £25,000 to have the extension completed.
The circumstances of the second offence are that Mr Blanchflower contracted with another couple, to build a two story extension. Despite being paid over £100,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build for more than 6 months, and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £60,000 to have the extension completed. The victims and their children (including their recently born 3rd child) intended to live in a caravan on site commencing in March 2016 whilst the planned work was completed. However they were forced to continue to live in the caravan throughout 2017, whilst the remedial work and build were concluded.
Victim Impact Statements were read out on behalf of both victims in Court and his Honour Judge Shaw commended Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Officers for their diligent investigation of these matters.
Following sentencing, Judge Shaw set out a timetable for financial investigation of any criminal benefit arising from this case (under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) -
the outcome of which will also inform any compensation for victims or costs due to the Council from the legal proceedings.
Mr Blanchflower had been previously sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment for a very similar offence in October 2017. The circumstances of that case were that Mr Blanchflower contracted with a couple, both in their mid-seventies, to build an extension, to improve their living arrangements. Despite being paid over £45,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build in more than half a year and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay over £166,000 to have Mr Blanchflower’s extension demolished and rebuilt.
The Trading Standards Service recommends that people should always use a Norfolk Trusted Trader or a trader who has been personally recommended to them by friends or family who have had similar work done. Consumers can find a Norfolk Trusted Trader by visiting www.norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader or by calling 0344 800 8020.
If your constituents are concerned about rogue builder activity, they can contact Trading Standards through our partners, the Citizens Advice consumer helpline, on 03454 04 05 06.
On 28 February 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Peter Bradley of Norwich, pleaded guilty to offences of contravening the requirements of professional diligence contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, and fraudulent trading contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, by taking payment for and then failing to supply used motor vehicle engines.
The circumstances of the case are that Mr Bradley, a sole trader operating through a website as Find an Engine UK, offered to supply used engines to a number of consumers. In each case, an up-front deposit or prepayment was requested, and in some cases further payments were also requested, but no engines were supplied. Over a period of 11 months, nearly £5,000 was taken from the 11 consumers who were witnesses in the case.
At the hearing, Mr Bradley also asked for two further similar offences to be taken into consideration, covering a subsequent time period and three further consumers.
The case was adjourned to Wednesday 4 April 2018 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court for sentencing.
On 27 February 2018 at Norwich Crown Court, Mr Alan Blanchflower, previously of Attleborough but now of Bintree, pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to carry out work within a reasonable time or at all and failing to carry out work with reasonable care and skill, contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. This follows on from a previous conviction and sentencing on 12 October 2017, when Mr Blanchflower was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment for a very similar offence.
The circumstances of the first offence are that Mr Blanchflower, a self-employed builder, agreed with a couple to build an extension. Despite being paid over £85,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build for more than six months, and the work done was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £25,000 to have the extension completed.
The circumstances of the second offence are that Mr Blanchflower agreed with another couple to build a two story extension. Despite being paid over £100,000 for the work, Mr Blanchflower did not complete the build for more than six months, and the work he did undertake was of poor workmanship and did not comply with building regulations. As a result the couple had to contract with another builder and pay £60,000 to have the extension completed. The victims and their children (including their recently born third child) intended to live in a caravan on site commencing in March 2016 whilst the planned work was completed. However they were forced to continue to live in the caravan throughout 2017, whilst the remedial work and build were concluded.
The matter was adjourned to 28 March 2018 for sentencing.